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19 October 2016, 15:08
Eleven potential victims of human trafficking, including six children, have been identified by police following a national day of action.
Five adults and six children under 18 who displayed indicators of trafficking were found working in nail bars during the multi-agency operation on Tuesday and are now being offered support.
One person has been detained for human trafficking offences and two others arrested for immigration offences by Police Scotland, with an additional 12 arrested by Immigration Enforcement.
The operation, the first nationwide day of its kind, involved 430 police officers supported by 50 colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police (BTP) and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
They visited 221 premises across Scotland including farms, beaches, car washes and nail bars.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston, of Police Scotland, said: "Human trafficking is a sickening trade in vulnerable people. It is happening now, in Scotland, to adults and children.
"Victims are being trafficked into and around the country, usually for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation.
"Police Scotland is committed to targeting those who seek to profit from exploiting others. Yesterday's efforts are the latest stage in the fight to keep people safe from this type of criminal activity.''
Mr Houston urged people to be vigilant and contact police if they suspect someone is being exploited and may have been trafficked.
The operation, which coincided with Anti-Slavery Day, was a major initiative to identify and protect potential victims of human trafficking.
Officers were also involved with awareness-raising work in transport hubs, ports and railway stations in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
A BTP spokesman said: "BTP is committed to reducing personal harm and helping to protect and safeguard children, vulnerable adults and all those with particular needs or who may be at risk of harm in railway environments.
"This includes working to identify and do all we reasonably can to protect those who are being exploited or are at risk of trafficking or slavery.''
Ian Tyldesley, assistant director for Immigration Enforcement in Scotland, said: "We regularly work with our partners to identify and visit organisations and businesses where intelligence leads us to believe somebody is being exploited or at risk of slavery.''