41% of 'trafficked victims are men'

More than two-fifths (41%) of those supported in the first six months of a contract to help adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales were men, according to new figures.

However, there is a lack of awareness of their plight among the public, The Salvation Army, which is delivering the contract, found.

A survey of English and Welsh adults carried out by YouGov discovered that, on average, respondents thought 29% of all trafficked victims in England and Wales were male.

Respondents also thought that an average of 68% of trafficked victims were sexually exploited, yet The Salvation Army said that of those supported by the new contract, 45% were forced into sexual exploitation, 43% were involved in labour exploitation and 8% were trafficked into domestic servitude.

The Salvation Army also dealt with its first case of human trafficking for organ removal within this period. Last year, The Salvation Army was awarded the contract from the Ministry of Justice to provide specialist support for adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales, including safe accommodation, counselling, medical care, translation services and legal counselling.

Between July 1 and December 31 2011, The Salvation Army, and its 12 sub contractors across England and Wales, supported 112 women and 78 men through their experiences and they were given time to try to rebuild their lives.

Most victims were referred from the police (44%), with the south east of England (54%) accounting for the majority of referrals. The victims helped have come from all over the world, including 58% from eastern Europe, 25% from Africa, 12% from Asia and 4% were trafficked from within the UK.

Major Anne Read, The Salvation Army's anti-trafficking response co-ordinator, said: "Male or female, no matter where the victim is in England and Wales or the reason that they are trafficked, we are helping all people caught up in all types of trafficking to get them the support they need, when they need it.

"The Salvation Army has a strong track record of supporting victims of human trafficking and we are working with a wide range of experts in delivering the contract to ensure that specialist, individually tailored support is available to every victim. This includes gender-specific services and support for victims with disabilities and mental health needs."

Minister for Justice, Crispin Blunt, said: "The support The Salvation Army offer to trafficking victims, regardless of gender, was a key reason why they were awarded the contract. In the first six months of providing this service, The Salvation Army have shown that they are able to offer a high quality, tailored system of support to some of the most vulnerable victims, regardless of their country of origin, religion or gender."