Scotland: Sex industry undergoing sinister change - men preferring foreign underage prostitutes Print E-mail

 Edinburgh -- Sunday 24 September 2006  

Sick trade: Children as young as 12 from Slovakia and other countries are being sold for sex at a fraction of the cost of native prostitutes. Photograph: Susan Burrell

Foreign prostitutes, 12, for sale in Scotland


FOREIGN prostitutes as young as 12 are being forced to work in brothels as part of Scotland's rocketing human trafficking problem, a senior police officer has revealed.

Detective Sergeant Mike McCormack, who heads Strathclyde's organised immigration crime team, said intelligence has emerged of a disturbing new trend of children from Slovakia and other countries being sold for sex for as little as £10 a time - a fraction of the price of local prostitutes.

McCormack warned that the nature of Scotland's sex industry is undergoing a sinister change, with Scots men now buying sex from "good-looking" foreign underage teenagers rather than older local drug-addicted women.

But he has levelled criticism at other forces for failing to deal with the problem and warned of a lack of resources to tackle human trafficking.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal that police are gathering shocking new evidence of children targeted by gangs overseas and brought into the UK, sold between brothels and taken to private flats and houses in Glasgow, where they are forced to work as prostitutes.

McCormack said: "We can see the trend is changing. We have intelligence that Chinese and Slovakian girls from the age of 12 are being prostituted in the south side of Glasgow.

"We have heard of a 12-year-old girl being prostituted for £10. Others cost £20-£30. They are good looking. Half of the local prostitutes are junkies charging £60. The punters are anyone - people coming out of pubs are offered girls. There is a huge child prostitution issue."

McCormack said they had intelligence Glasgow was being used as a dumping ground for trafficked girls. Most were sold in London airports and put into London brothels, he said. But they were moved on when the police started investigating. "The Albanians have contacts in Scotland through the Albanian community. Glasgow is just a place they come to," he said.

McCormack added: "There is evidence that children from Slovakia are coming through the country with no problems, because there's no visa needed. The traffickers can make millions from girls in brothels.

"We know the Scottish Executive is interested, but we need more staff and more money. We only have two staff at the moment working on this in Strathclyde and we are the experts for the whole of Scotland. We do not have enough police officers to look at this problem.

"Police in Edinburgh have said they don't have a human trafficking problem, but that's impossible. I don't think they know what's happening in their areas. No one is asking the questions, and if they don't look at it they won't find it."

An Executive spokeswoman said: "We are working with the Home Office to make sure the law on human trafficking is as robust as possible. Last month, responses to a Home Office and Scottish Executive consultation on human trafficking were published, and they will inform a UK action plan on preventing, arresting and prosecuting offenders and helping victims."