LAGAN Valley MLA Brenda Hale has welcomed the launch of the Northern Ireland Assembly All Party Group on Human Trafficking as a positive development in promoting effective action against traffickers.
The new Assembly Group is aimed at tackling the issues associated with trafficking by raising awareness, building co-operation with parliamentary counterparts throughout the UK and advocating changes in the law, policy and practice.
Mrs. Hale said she was delighted to be part of the new group and hoped it could be instrumental in preventing any escalation in human trafficking.
“I am worried,” she said, “that whilst we only identified 27 potential human trafficking cases in Northern Ireland last year, the majority of those trafficked tend to go unnoticed.
“People who have been the victims of trafficking live in the most appalling conditions and are generally held against their will for either labour or sexual exploitation.
“More needs to be done to ensure that statutory agencies better coordinate strategy on trafficking but we all have a role to play in recognising the signs that somebody is being trafficked and to draw awareness to the issue.
“I am committed to ensuring that those criminals who are engaged in trafficking crimes are brought to justice whilst ensuring that victims are given the best possible support in getting back their lives.”