A Wrexham lawyer who has handled cases in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords is urging local people to contact police if they know of anyone whom they suspect may be the victim of human trafficking or slavery.
Anne Davies, a Senior Solicitor in the Family department of leading North Wales and Shropshire law firm GHP Legal, says whilst people may find it hard to believe that such things are going on in the town around them, in reality these reprehensible practices are taking place in major towns and cities right across the UK.
The plea for people to be vigilant and pro-active comes after Miss Davies was invited by BAWSO (Black Association of Women Step Out) to attend the Anti-Trafficking Campaign launch at the Welsh Assembly office in Cardiff.
Speaking this week Miss Davies said: “Between 2012 and 2013 the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has increased by 22% and that number will keep rising because by the very nature of their circumstances the victims themselves are not in a position to seek help.
“Even in cases where trafficked people break free from their abusers they know they could face an even greater nightmare if they go to the authorities, because having entered the country illegally they will then have to persuade officials to believe them and risk being imprisoned for crimes they were forced to commit whilst being subjected to servitude.
“The launch at the National Assembly highlighted the difficulties faced by those who are trafficked and frankly it is shocking. The Human Rights Act 1998 in this country states that in accordance with Article 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights no-one shall be held in slavery or servitude; and no-one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
“I cannot stress too greatly the importance of people coming forward if they know of anyone who is being subjected to servitude, who is being forced to undertake unpaid work against their will or who is being forced into any exploitative practice including those of a sexual nature or where they are being forced to commit offences against their will.
“Only if the authorities are aware can appropriate action be taken to punish the perpetrators and assist those who are subjected to these abhorrent practices.”