No country is immune from human trafficking.
I have been campaigning against human trafficking for many, many years. But we still aren't tackling the problem and putting a stop to a crime which is not only damaging to individuals and families, but that is often taking place along side other serious crimes including money laundering and terrorism.
Not just a crime that happens in other places
Human trafficking is one of the greatest crimes committed across the world. This has long been an issue worldwide and often misunderstood as a crime which only effects girls from foreign lands.
In recent months the number of cases coming to light, or at least being reported on in the UK has grown. Last week the National Crime Agency reported that the number of calls to the modern slavery hotline had doubled and modern slavery was effecting "every large town and city in the country". The helpline, for people to report suspicions of modern slavery, received 150 calls in seven days this week, up from a weekly average of 75. The surge came after the agency said modern slavery and human trafficking were far more prevalent than law enforcement had previously thought.
Human trafficking can effect anyone, at anytime. It is a grave crime based on exploitation and is often masterminded by criminal gangs. It is progress that we are now aware that human trafficking is not just something that happens to people born into poverty or war, but could happen to anyone.
Awareness isn't enough
These are difficult times and budgets are being cut. But, this is an issue where we fundamentally cannot cut funding. This is a far reaching crime which needs to be constantly suppressed. Due to the financial gains criminals get from trafficking human beings we need to impose the strictest penalties and continue to challenge the practice in every way possible.
What more needs to be done
More resources need to be given to authorities across the world and international collaboration needs to continue to ensure that crimes are identified, reported and prosecuted at the highest level. Real action needs to be taken to ensure criminals and their victims do not slip through the net.
Education is key to ensure young people know the signs of human trafficking and can report them. I am pleased with the work the Department of Education are doing in the UK, but there is still so much to be done at an early age in schools.
Public vigilance will be critical to make sure culprits are identified, to ensure this happens the authorities need to ensure that crime reports are taken seriously and the public are given the support they need. The public needs to be aware of anything that might appear suspicious. Cash in hand can be a signal that not all is above board and I would encourage you to question why cash in hand is taking place.
Above all else we need to come together and all play our roles to ensure everything is being done to eradicate the trade of human beings.