Category Archives: Crime

International Day of the Girl 

Dame Anne Begg MP is today supporting International Day of the Girl, a UN-led campaign to raise awareness of gender inequalities and abuse suffered by girls around the world and this year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”.

The Labour Party has made stopping violence against women and girls a key priority for their programme for Government. Earlier this year, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP announced that a Labour Government would bring in new legislation to give better support to victims of violence and bring perpetrators to justice. And in the summer the Party appointed Seema Malhotra MP as the first ever Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence against Women and Girls.

The Labour Party has committed to:

  • Introducing a new Commissioner of Domestic and Sexual Violence to sit at the heart of Government and ensure victims voices are being heard
  • New national standards for policing to drive up performance across the board
  • Introducing compulsory sex & relationship education in all state-funded schools, so young people are taught that no form of violence in relationships is acceptable
  • A new £3million annual fund for refuges supporting victims of domestic violence
  • New FGM Protection Orders to stop children suspected of being at risk of FGM from being taken abroad

Dame Anne said: “I want girls in Aberdeen South growing up knowing they won’t face discrimination because of their gender and never fearing violence will be used against them. That is why it is important that we continue to fight for gender equality and continue speaking out against violence and discrimination – in our local area, but also across the country and internationally too.

“This is an incredibly important cause and that’s why a Labour Government – and a Labour MP in Aberdeen South – will make it a priority.”

Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls said: “The global level of violence girls in our country is horrific. All too often rape and violence are used as weapons of war and in many countries discrimination against girls is deeply embedded in the national culture. International Day of the Girl is an important moment where we can stand side-by-side with women and girls across the world and say: ‘we will not stand for this. We want change.’

“And we need change in our country too. Teenage girls and young women are now the most likely group to be victims of domestic violence, thousands of girls are at risk of FGM and NUS report a growing number of sexual assaults at university.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to this growing violence. That is why Labour is putting this issue centre stage in our plans for Government.”

You can find out more about the UN International Day of the Girl at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child

Fire and police control room closures

After many efforts by me and my colleagues to lobby against cuts to public services in the North East, I was disappointed to hear of the plans to close both the police and fire control rooms in Aberdeen.

This is a devastating blow to frontline services in the North East of Scotland. These closures will clearly have implications for hundreds of people whose job security will be diminished. It will also mean that we will no longer have valuable local knowledge at the end of the phone when calling either service in an emergency.

This is a clear example of the current SNP Governments centralisation policy. The SNP continue to strip the North East of valuable public services and move them towards the central belt.

I am also disappointed by the decision to exclude the public from having their say in a public consultation.

Exhibition on Modern Day Slavery

Dame Anne Begg MP attended one of the most dramatic and distressing exhibitions ever promoted in the House of Commons highlighting the hidden nature of Modern Day Slavery.

The exhibition, built by students from the Central St Martin’s College of Art, depicts the four different kinds of slavery hidden away in our society.  Curtains, doors, drawers and tea chests concealed the stories and photographs of survivors.

The survivors who shared their stories with the Human Trafficking Foundation to create the exhibition attended the opening.  Among them was Cristina, a Romanian girl sold by her mother into prostitution in Birmingham when she was 16 and who narrowly escaped being snatched from her local authority care home by her traffickers.  There was also a man, duped by a job advertised in Hungary, and on arrival here forced to work without pay, compelled to open a credit card account operated by his slave master, forced to claim benefits for non-existent children.

No one knows the real numbers involved.  Yet, the Serious Organized Crime Agency knows that at least 2,000 victims are found each year.  However, they believe that is the tip of the iceberg and that for every victim found, another ten remain hidden.  The Human Trafficking Foundation concludes there must be up to 20,000 slaves in the cities, towns and villages of the UK.

Of these victims that have come to light, 6% are known to have come from Scotland.

Dame Anne visits House of Commons exhibition
Dame Anne visits House of Commons exhibition

MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne said “Due to recent local press coverage on this issue this week, we are all aware that there are deeply traumatised people who have been trafficked to the UK and abused living in Aberdeen.

“That’s why I recently held an event on International Women’s Day to raise awareness of human trafficking and I want to ensure that everyone in Aberdeen is more alert to the signs of modern day slavery.  I hope students in schools, public service workers, the police, as well as those in private business will join me in this task.

“In parliament, I have already tabled a question to the Minister asking that frontline staff are fully trained to recognise the signs of human trafficking. I want to see modern day slavery put at the top of the political agenda.”

Anthony Steen, Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation said: “What is amazing is that trafficked children, unlike adults, are offered no special care in spite of what they have been through.  They have no safe haven since in local authority care hundreds of trafficked children go missing each year.

Tackling Human Trafficking in the North East

As part of International Women’s Day, Dame Anne joint hosted an event with Aberdeen Cyrenians’ Violence Against Women Project to raise awareness on human trafficking in the North East which was attended by over a hundred people.

Jenny Marra MSP spoke on human trafficking
Jenny Marra MSP spoke on human trafficking

Dame Anne invited Jenny Marra MSP, Co-Convenor of the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Human Trafficking and Bronagh Andrews, Assistant Operations Manager at the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) Project to speak at the event on the prevalence of human trafficking and the need for a more co-ordinated response.

Dame Anne said: “Due to its nature, it can be difficult to ascertain the nature and extent of human trafficking. However, I am sure that this evening will show that everyone can help play their part by raising awareness on this issue.”

The event was held in the Town and County Hall in the Town House
The event was held in the Town and County Hall in the Town House

Joining Jenny and Bronagh on a panel to address questions from the audience were Detective Chief Inspector David Hadden and Fiona Whitehouse, Depute Manager of Cyrenians’ Violence Against Women Project. Fiona said: “The aim of this evening’s event is to raise awareness of human trafficking in the North East of Scotland, with a particular focus on the harm caused to women who are trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.”