Jenny Marra MSP :  Commonwealth Games 2014 (Speech in the Scottish Parliament )

18 December 2012 

I can tell Stewart Stevenson that my Wimbledon socks singularly fail to improve my tennis game every time that I wear them, but I will keep on trying.  

Presiding Officer, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate.

To host the Commonwealth games is a huge privilege for Scotland and for Glasgow. We have the chance to show the world the best of our great country: the generosity of our people; the beauty of our landscapes and our cities; and the power of our communities to welcome, through unmatched tolerance and acceptance, those from around the Commonwealth and beyond.

However, I think that we all agree that the games are about more than sport.

We have the opportunity to play a leading role in a community of nations to promote common aims, values, rights and obligations.

Nowhere can we do more to play our part in that than by showing our commitment to tackling modern-day slavery.

The United Kingdom—and Scotland—as one of the world’s largest destination countries for human trafficking, continues to be a nation where the promise of a better life can end in misery and modern-day human slavery.

It is our moral duty in this Parliament—and there is a duty on the minister and the Scottish Government—to recognise the part that we must play when the world’s spotlight is on us by righting this wrong in our country.

In an answer to a parliamentary question earlier this year, the sports minister Shona Robison said:

“There is currently no intelligence to indicate that human trafficking will be an issue for Scotland for either games.”—

[Official Report, Written Answers, 31 January 2012; S4W-05138.]

That may seem a reason not to act but, as Gordon Meldrum of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency has made clear, solid intelligence is a luxury that we can rarely depend upon in preventing human trafficking. Gordon Meldrum said:

“Knowing whether you are one of ten victims or one of a hundred doesn’t change the hell you have been through.”

Speaking for the police and other agencies, he continued:

“So collectively we need to move on from looking to ‘prove’ that this is an issue, to one in which we accept it is an issue” and act.

For the Olympic games, the early figures show that human trafficking to London occurred where intelligence had failed.

Like Ms Robison, UK ministers did not recognise any specific threat of human trafficking during the London games, but the early figures show that there was a 35 per cent increase in referrals for human trafficking in London during this Olympic year of 2012.

Therefore, lack of prior intelligence is no reason not to act, because human trafficking happens when intelligence is not available to our agencies—there is enough evidence of that.

The Olympic anti-trafficking group attributes that 35 per cent increase in referrals to the robust awareness-raising measures in London, which I think Scotland can learn from in advance of the Commonwealth games.

This year in London, in partnership with the United Nations, 23 life-sized art installations were set up throughout the city.

They carried the stories of trafficking victims and information on how to identify trafficked people, and were manned by volunteers to raise public awareness.

The installations did not take much time or money to set up, but their impact is evident in the 35 per cent increase in referrals that I mentioned.

Other anti-trafficking measures that have been used at sporting events in Athens, Berlin and Vancouver are awareness-raising information cards that were included in packs given to visitors, the provision of shelters and training for front-line staff.

I have raised the issue of training previously in the chamber and asked the Scottish Government to consider anti-trafficking awareness training for police, ambulance staff and firefighters.

I know that awareness training is taking place for police officers at Tulliallan—I have asked to go there and see that—but I ask the minister, in his summing up speech, to update the Parliament on how far the Scottish Government has got with putting in place anti-trafficking awareness training for ambulance staff and firefighters.

It is not only the Labour Party that wants more to be done.

There is a UK-wide interdepartmental ministerial group on human trafficking, which comprises Kenny MacAskill and ministers from London, Wales and Northern Ireland, and which acts as our UK national rapporteur on human trafficking, as demanded by the European Union.

That multi-minister group has asked the Scottish Government to do more to raise awareness of human trafficking ahead of the Commonwealth games in Glasgow in 2014.

The group recognises that the Scottish Government needs to do more, so I ask the ministers to give a commitment to do so.

It is the obligation of the Scottish Government and Parliament to heed the call of that ministerial group to learn the lessons from London 2012— where there was a 35 per cent increase in referrals—and to do more to tackle human trafficking during the Commonwealth games.

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