A former police officer, turned professional Private Investigator, Heather has had personal experiences of human trafficking and realises the importance of training the professionals tasked with protecting trafficking victims.
See below for an extract from this moving and harrowing account from Heather’s own blog, written for STOP THE TRAFFIK.
"I was on night duty with my team as a serving police officer. We had received a request to check on a young Asian girl who was known for running away but had returned home. It was what we all thought of as a routine welfare check. I entered the house to find a number of men and women in the sitting room but no sign of the young girl. I asked one of the men where the young girl was – only to be told that she was upstairs and did not want to see anyone. ‘She is fine – just a silly girl who had run away, but she’s back home safe now’, I was told. ‘She’s going on holiday tomorrow to see her auntie in Pakistan’. But as a police officer I wanted to make sure that the girl was safe. I pushed the issue, and made the point that and I needed to speak to her myself. With great reluctance, they finally took me upstairs to her room. One of the women accompanied me but I stated I wanted to see the girl on her own. Again she was reluctant, but I fed her the usual line of the sooner I saw her, the sooner I would leave. This worked.
I went into the room to see a young girl, no more than 14 years old, sat on the bed crying. She looked well but there was this enormous sadness in her eyes that I will never forget – like she had resigned herself to something. I assumed it was because her family had told her off for running away. The girl said that she was fine, and that she was going away for a short while on holiday. She told me was sorry for running off. I did my usual speech about the dangers of running away. I left the family and went back to the rest of my team to complete the shift.
I did nothing – I didn’t know then what I know now. But this is inexcusable because I am not talking about decades ago but an incident that occurred within the last 5 years. Training was never given to front-line police officers as I was then. Only now do I know that young girls were, and still are, being bought and sold for sex, with countless others being exploited in various other ways. Yet again no training was given or details of whom to contact if something was suspected.
It is not only the police but also councils that appear to have failed to see the merits of training. Whilst training of front-line public service professionals will not solve trafficking by itself, even training in its most basic form would be a huge step forward. Only then can we turn the Untrained Protectors into Trained Protectors."
For the blog post in its entirety visit: www.stopthetraffik.wordpress.com
Member since: 10th July 2012
I've been running The Best of Bishop's Stortford since 2010 and I'm passionate about supporting all things local. In particular, we work hard to showcase the best local businesses who give the area it's...