By Annie Brown on October 26, 2013—
“With many Vietnamese and Chinese-owned shops staffed by victims of trafficking or illegal immigrants, police say the customers themselves can help detect and tackle the problem.
Scotland’s women can play a vital role in a police crackdown on human trafficking in nail bars, a leading officer has said.
Vietnamese and Chinese-owned shops are often staffed by illegal immigrants or women trafficked here by criminal gangs.
Ruth Gilfillan, of Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit, said “disgusting” attitudes by some customers to the welfare of those serving them needed to change.
The unit launched Operation Claremont to stop nail bars being used to exploit victims.
On a visit to a Glasgow nail bar, customers were more concerned about missing appointments than they were about the workers being questioned.
Detective Chief Inspector Gilfillan said: “There were people queueing up, impatient to get in, which indicated they were more worried about their manicure than the welfare of the staff. It was disgusting, really.
“If it is cheap, it is probably cheap for a reason and if you see anything suspicious, report it.”
Hundreds of foreign workers, largely from the Far East, are being used in nail bars springing up on our high streets.
There are currently two cases of women being found working in nail bars in Scotland who have potentially been trafficked.
DCI Gilfillan said: “We are going to fight to make Scotland a hostile environment for traffickers who think they can use them as an easy cover here.
“If we find victims, employers will face the consequences.”
Nail bars are not licensed. The police have used welfare visits to get into 15 salons, including some in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk and Stirling.
DCI Gilfillan said: “There is a fear of authority. When we walk in, they have hygiene masks on their faces and eyes like saucers.
“The first thing we say is, ‘We are there to help you, not arrest you’.”
This year, 82 victims of trafficking have been found – 47 women, 21 men and 14 under-18s – seven girls and seven boys.
Police are asking customers who use nail bars to call them if they see the same worker all the time or if staff seem nervous.
DCI Gilfillan said: “If something is telling you that this is not right, then my instinct would be that it isn’t.””
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