Roma victims of crime in Glasgow 'struggle to gain justice'
Advocate Depute Kath Harper has told of the difficulty in securing an interpreter who could support Roma victims of human trafficking to give evidence.
Following the conviction of four people charged with bringing vulnerable women from Slovakia to the UK, Ms Harper said even after "strenuous efforts" a translator could not be found.
She said: "I think there is real problem, or the potential for a real problem, for Roma speakers to access justice.
"We made strenuous efforts to get a Roma interpreter but we just couldn’t get one.
"From this trial, this is a learning opportunity and I’m not sure how we’re going to overcome that.
"Interpretation particularly with Roma is something we’re going to have to look at because the Roma community, I suppose they are quite vulnerable to this sort of trafficking so if we want to allow them access to the justice system we’re going to have to find a way to communicate with them."
Glasgow has the largest Roma community in Scotland and the second largest in the UK with the majority of the community living on the city's South Side.
From a large Romanian population, the community is now largely of Slovakian original and well settled in Glasgow.
Although the Roma have been in the city for around 15 years, the authorities admit there are still barriers.
DI Steven McMillan of Police Scotland, who worked on the recent Govanhill human trafficking case, said: "I hadn't known about the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller Police Association until taking on this case but we linked in with them to help us understand cultural aspects.
"And to learn how we best understand and support that culture.
"We also wanted to know how we help the jury understand why Roma people want to come to Scotland and what they were put through to get here."
Bronagh Andrew, Operations Manager for the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), said language barriers are preventing Roma victims of trafficking coming forward.
But she added it was important to note that exploitation is not unique to the Roma community.
She said: "[Language] is a huge problem and one of the barriers to people coming forward so it's one reason why we don't know the prevalence of [trafficking in the Roma community] still, particularly we still need people to come forward and say 'Can you help me?'
"But in terms of trafficking and exploitation there's nothing unique or particular to Roma communities or Roma culture.
"Women in Scotland who are living in poverty... are just as vulnerable to the myth that there could be a better life for you.
"As long as people think paying for sex is acceptable then vulnerable women will be exploited."