2012 will bring surge in human trafficking, warns Hampstead councillor

� Cases of human trafficking will increase in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, a Hampstead councillor has warned.

Kirsty Roberts is leading a cross-party steering group on human trafficking, which often sees victims sold to criminal gangs.

They are then usually transported abroad for sexual exploitation or forced labour.

But there are concerns that an influx of tourists in 2012 will lead to a boom in London’s sex industry. This has happened in other Olympic host cities.

Cllr Roberts said: “We abolished slavery a long time ago but human trafficking still exists.

“This is a crime which totally traumatises people.

“Anything we can do to get people away from gang masters and provide them with the support they need is something that we should be trying to achieve.”

Most Read

Innocent men, women and children are trafficked for a range of reasons – but the most common is sexual exploitation, said Cllr Roberts.

She plans to hold a public event in October in Russell Square to tie in with Anti-Slavery Day.

The Conservative Hampstead Town representative spoke out as a 27-year-old man completed a gruelling stunt on Monday (August 8) on behalf of the Helen Bamber Foundation. The Bloomsbury-based organisation helps victims of human trafficking.

Musician Phil Knight had been locked in a sealed container outside Euston Station for 14 days.

He slept in the container – which had no windows – ate cereal for meals and his only luxuries were a sleeping bag, two drum sticks, a chemical toilet, a bouncy ball and a diary to keep him occupied.

The Ham&High spoke to Mr Knight through an intercom system in the container before he was released.

He said: “The aim of this is to show what these poor people go through when they are trafficked.

“This container is a little bit bigger and I’ve got more luxuries than they would have. I’ve got a chemical toilet which is more than they would have.”

When asked what he had missed most during his time in the container, he replied: “My wife.”

The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) is also warning that an influx of tourists during the Olympics could put women at risk of forced prostitution and lead to a boom in human trafficking.

According to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), 1,254 victims were referred to the department between April 1, 2009 and December last year as potential cases of human trafficking.

The victims came from all over the world, including 216 from Nigeria, 149 from China, 120 from Vietnam and 57 from Slovakia.

The most common reason given for trafficking was for sexual exploitation – 356 – while 144 cases were for domestic servitude and 305 for labour exploitation.