New crackdown on trafficking for sex trade

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LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) A new campaign against human trafficking for the sex trade will be launched across the country today, police said.

The operation, codenamed Pentameter 2, will target the gang masters who force women and children to work in the sex industry.

It will also aim to help victims and raise public awareness of the problem.

The operation follows a similar four-month project last year after which 134 people were charged with various offences related to trafficking.

Nearly 90 women and girls were rescued from 500 brothels, massage parlours, homes and other premises. About half came from Eastern Europe and the rest from the Far East, Africa and South America.

A permanent unit, the UK Human Trafficking Centre, was set up as a result of the operation, bringing police, prosecutors and officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency together.

The latest operation will be bigger, partly because the problem has become more complex.

It will target people born in the UK who are sold, moved around and exploited by criminal gangs as well those brought in from abroad for thousands of pounds.

Gloucestershire Chief Constable and spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers Dr Tim Brain, said: ''The problem is large.

It is growing because there are huge profits to be made in the exploitation of young women and young men for sexual purposes.'' ''It is morally and legally slavery,'' he said.

He told BBC radio the operation would not only be cross-force but cross-border and would liaise with organisations in Europe.

A telephone information line will be set up to give advice to immigration staff and social workers attempting to identify victims of trafficking.

REUTERS SKB PM1455

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