Unlike many of the good readers of this blog, I have a passing interest in prurient matters. Not intimately, you understand, as such days are far behind me, but on a much more academic, human curiosity basis. There seem to be so many foibles and peccadilloes to reflect upon. [Get on with it! – Ed.]
Ahem! Anyway, my attention was directed to this post on the amusingly named “Anthology of English Pros” blog. I commend the whole post to your attention as I lack Anna’s ability to summarise things with such admirable conciseness, but there are a couple of points I do want to draw out:
- The media, no longer able to research stories carefully and correctly, is grossly over-estimating the amount of sex-trafficking that is going on by not analysing the report correctly.
- Millions of pound have been spent and yet the report only covers half of the area it was supposed to.
- The “project” raided a small number of venues, unlikely to be “statistically significant” (i.e., not enough to actually justify any of the claims or projections made.) There is also no basis given as to how these venues were selected
- The “protocol” used to define trafficking is so pre-loaded, it lead to two dozen foreign prostitutes being classed as “trafficked”, even though:
- NONE of the 210 migrants had been kidnapped, imprisoned or subjected to surveillance
- NONE were established as sold
- ONLY ONE had been subjected to violence, and NONE had been threatened with violence
- At least 202 had known when recruited they would be expected to work as prostitutes. Of the remaining 8, some may have been misled about their location rather than the work
After this “project” was concluded, they estimated that 2,578 women in England and Wales were trafficked, even though last year’s nationwide crackdown, Operation Pentameter, involving all police forces, SOCA, the UK Borders Agency, the Foreign Office and various other assorted dingbats and wingnuts managed to convict only 15 people, following 528 initial arrests.
Operation Pentameter was another sparkling success in a similar vein, of course (please read the equally depressing link in its entirety as well). Of the 528 arrests made:
- 10 of the 55 police forces never found anyone to arrest
- 122 of the 528 arrests announced by police never happened: they were wrongly recorded either through honest bureaucratic error or apparent deceit by forces trying to chalk up arrests which they had not made
- of the 406 real arrests, more than half of those arrested (230) were women, and most were never implicated in trafficking at all
- 153 had been released weeks before the police announced the success of the operation
- 106 of them without any charge at all and 47 after being cautioned for minor offences
- of the remaining 253 were not accused of trafficking:
- 73 were charged with immigration breaches
- 76 were eventually convicted of non-trafficking offences involving drugs, driving or management of a brothel
- others died, absconded or disappeared off police records
- During six months of national effort, they found only 96 people to arrest for trafficking, of whom 67 were charged:
- 47 of those never made it to court
- 22 people were finally prosecuted for trafficking, including two women who had originally been “rescued” as supposed victims
- 7 of them were acquitted
The end result was that, after raiding 822 brothels, flats and massage parlours all over the UK, Pentameter finally convicted of trafficking a grand total of only 15 men and women.
It gets even worse, though:
- Internal police documents reveal that 10 of Pentameter’s 15 convictions were of men and women who were jailed on the basis that there was no evidence of their coercing the prostitutes they had worked with
- There were just 5 men who were convicted of importing women and forcing them to work as prostitutes
- These genuinely were traffickers, but none of them was detected by Pentameter
I think it’s fair for me to say that these grandiose, headline-making cross-border, cross-jurisdiction, police “projects” and “operations” are little more than excuses for the police to generate massive overtime bills, media coverage for senior offices and a “narrative” of the Home Office “doing something” about crime. Trafficking human beings is an execrable crime, but there is no evidence that it is nearly as widespread as the hysterical media and government would have us believe.
Nor, clearly, is there any evidence that these enormous and expensive operations and projects achieve anything useful, given that the actual arrests of actual traffickers was clearly done by actual police just doing their actual day job.
So, if I might vouchsafe a suggestion to Theresa May as to how to cut costs without damaging front-line services, it would be this: stop spending millions on grandiose police operations pandering to the Daily Mail and find a real, common and prevalent crime that actually exists in numbers to focus on.