Child protection workers are on high alert over fears about sex trafficking at the Commonwealth Games
There are concerns that children are at risk of being trafficked into the country for sexual exploitation during the two-week long sporting event in Glasgow.
Child protection workers told TFN they are being urged to be vigilant, while a charity has warned hospitality staff to be on the lookout for vulnerable children.
We would encourage all involved to be vigilant and watch out for children who might be sexually exploited
Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo's Scotland, said: "With any big event like the Commonwealth Games we would encourage all involved to be vigilant and watch out for children who might be sexually exploited.
“Taxi drivers, hotel workers and bar staff can all play an important role by reporting concerns to the police."
There is anecdotal evidence from past big sporting events, like the London Olympics, that traffickers use the volume of visitors attending as a cover for their operations.
A child protection source told TFN: “Everyone working in the field is aware of this. These sort of events are targeted by traffickers.
“They use the volume of people coming in and the dislocation this causes as a means of going about their ‘business’.
“These concerns are heightened at every big event – and this kind of activity is definitely on the radar for the Commonwealth Games.
“In the past, Barnardo’s has issued guidance for big sporting events like the London Olympics and I understand it is also looking closely at the Commonwealth Games.”
The signs hospitality staff are being asked to look for include children being bought alcohol by an adult, a child being taken to a hotel room by an adult who does not seem to be a family member and a child being seen out late with a group of adults.
Fears have been previously raised over women being brought into Glasgow for sexual exploitation during the games.
Glasgow Community and Safety Services raised the issue during a submission to Holyrood’s equal opportunities committee.
Its submission stated: "There is concern that the … Commonwealth Games in Glasgow may increase the threat of human trafficking into the UK and preventative measures need to be put in place now.
"There is evidence to suggest that trafficking and prostitution increases in places where large sporting events are being held, e.g. 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 World Cup in Germany."
Glasgow 2014 – the XX Commonwealth Games – starts on July 23 and ends on August 3.