Belfast Telegraph

New anti-trafficking group set up

A group to improve co-operation against human trafficking in Northern Ireland has been established.

Police, the health and justice departments and non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International will be involved.

A total of 88 potential victims have been rescued over the last three-and-a-half years and several convictions secured, said police. Thursday is the EU's Anti-Trafficking Day.

Justice minister David Ford said many community and voluntary organisations across Northern Ireland were working hard to tackle the problem.

He said: "I very much welcome their considerable interest in this issue and want to harness their enthusiasm and ability in a formal arrangement.

"The new engagement group on human trafficking will improve communication and dialogue between the statutory and community sectors and ensure that we work in partnership to achieve our shared goal of tackling human trafficking."

PSNI Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said: "Police believe that a partnership approach is absolutely vital to tackling the problem of human trafficking.

"Officers in districts and in crime operations will work with individuals and agencies in the public, private and voluntary sectors to offer support to victims. At the same time, police will work to apprehend those individuals and groups involved in this criminal activity to bring them before the courts."

The minister also launched a photography and video competition for students in Northern Ireland and the Republic to raise awareness of the issue by encouraging research and presentations through a photograph or short video. The winner could earn 1,000 euro (£800).

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty Northern Ireland campaigner, said: "By working jointly we can avoid duplication, share information, establish best practice, assess emerging trends and establish effective prevention measures."

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