Sex-trafficking spreads into the countryside

HUMAN trafficking for the sex trade is now a problem across Wales and is not just confined to urban areas, a new report has claimed.

And golf’s Ryder Cup will fuel a boom in women and children forced here from abroad to work in the Welsh sex industry, according to the report by an Assembly cross party working group.

But the view is disputed by the police and Terrence Higgins Trust.

The report, Local Solutions to an International Crime: Trafficking of Women and Children in Wales 2010, refers to the case of Thomas Carroll and his wife, Shamiela Clark, as evidence of how the sex trade has crept into rural Wales.

The couple were jailed for three-and-a-half years in February for luring women to Pembrokeshire from South America and Africa to work in the sex trade.

In the foreword to the report Joyce Watson, the AM who set up the working group in November 2007, says: “From the responses I received having contacted each local authority in Wales on this issue, human trafficking is not exclusively an urban phenomenon, rather it is prevalent in every type of community in Wales, from the urban streets of Cardiff to the rolling hills of Carmarthenshire.”

The report says decisive action is needed to combat human trafficking as evidence from elsewhere suggests major sporting events exacerbate the problem.

It concludes: “Greece licensed a large number of additional brothels in the months leading up to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and mega-brothels were installed near the German football stadia during the World Cup in 2006.

“It is therefore highly likely that the Olympics, as well as other major sporting events to be held in Wales, such as golf’s Ryder Cup in Newport this October, will attract a significant increase in the number of women and children trafficked for the sex trade as demand increases.”

After contacting all 22 Welsh local authorities, Ms Watson, Labour AM for Mid and West Wales, said there have been 15 cases of “proven or suspected” people trafficking in Wales.

Economic migrants come here to work in the sex trade

However, Welsh director of sex health charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, Pete Clark, said research has revealed just 11 cases of women brought here by force to work in the sex industry since 2005.

A far bigger problem is the number of “economic migrants” taking “a career decision” to come here to work in the sex trade, he said.

“They’re not coerced, they’re making a career decision to come to Wales to work in the sex trade because they can earn substantially more money than in their home countries,” he said.

Among the report’s key recommendations is establishing an All-Wales trafficking director to bring together the expertise of the police, social services, the UK Border Agency, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and voluntary organisations.

Jeff Farrar, the assistant chief constable of Gwent Police and all-Wales lead for the force on human trafficking, said current intelligence does not indicate the problem is widespread or that the Ryder Cup will exacerbate it.

Speaking for both the Gwent and South Wales forces he said: “However, the police like many other agencies are keen to work in partnership with Assembly Members to ensure we have an accurate picture of human trafficking in Wales to allow us to work together to protect these vulnerable people and bring to justice those responsible.”

A spokesperson for the Assembly Government said: “The Assembly Government recognises that child trafficking is an issue, which is why we established a multi-agency all-Wales trafficking group to consider what further action might need to be taken to identify and protect these extremely vulnerable children.”