June 21, 2006

UK government unveils sex trafficking task force

By Stephanie Ditta

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is to create a dedicated
police-led task force to combat the sex-trafficking of women,
the UK Human Trafficking Center.

The announcement came at the conclusion of a four-month
long police operation that resulted in the rescue of more than
80 women, some as young as 14, believed to have been trafficked
mainly from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Far East.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker announced the task force
at a news conference in London where the results of Operation
Pentameter were unveiled by the Association of Chief Police
Officers (ACPO).

"These women were conned and deceived into believing a
better life was awaiting them in the UK," said South
Yorkshire's Deputy Chief Constable Grahame Maxwell, who led the

Instead, they were subjected to "horrific" acts of
violence, rape and enslavement.

Maxwell stressed the crackdown was only "the tip of the
iceberg," and that there was much more work to be done.

Coaker said the government was determined to do all it
could to eradicate the trade.

"We will not tolerate sexual trafficking in the UK. It is
our aim to stamp out modern day slavery," he said.

The center, to be based in Sheffield, will work closely
with local and national police, NGOs, charity agencies, as well
as the victims and members of the public.