MSP leads debate on global crackdown of online trafficking

Gillian Martin says we must make sure that people are aware this is not just an issue abroad but at home too.
Gillian Martin says we must make sure that people are aware this is not just an issue abroad but at home too.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has led a members’ debate at Holyrood on the global crackdown of cybersex trafficking in both developing countries and In Scotland.

Ms Martin put forward the motion after concerns were raised by her own constituents and around Scotland regarding online exploitation and the abuse of children.

It comes after a meeting with the International Justice Mission (IJM) which highlights the exploitation of children overseas which it is claimed is “supported and enabled” by online purchasers in western countries, including Scotland.

The IJM has warned victims can be exploited “in any location with a computer and the internet or even a mobile phone”.

In other countries including the Philippines, there has been a growth in the cybersex trafficking with authorities dealing with more than six thousand referrals per month, many which have connections to the UK.

According to figures from Operation Latisse, which was carried out by Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency, Scottish children are also becoming the subjects of online abuse at an increasing rate.

The operation gathered evidence of more than 30 million indecent images of Scottish children over a six-week period.

The Police Crime Statistics in Scotland found there is not one constituency in Scotland where Online Child Exploitation does not take place.

The motion calls for recognition of concerns made by constituents in Aberdeenshire East and around Scotland regarding the online exploitation and abuse of children.

The SNP MSP has previously told how she has sat down with her own daughter to warn of the pressures and dangers coming from online.

It happened after a case involving a young girl in Aberdeenshire which led to images of the youngster being distributed online after appearing on the social media network, Snapchat.

Ms Martin said: “The Scottish Government is putting forward a raft of new measures to protect children online and the work being done at a national scale with other forces is beginning to make inroads on these types of heinous crimes.

“But we must make sure that people are aware this is not just an issue abroad but at home too.

“In fact, Police Crime Statistics have revealed there is not one constituency in Scotland where Online Child Exploitation is not an issue.

“The work already being done is hugely commendable but we must ensure children and parents are aware of the dangers posed from going online and how to protect people.”