New Virginia law trains hotel staff to spot signs of human trafficking

A new state law requires all hotel staff in Virginia to be fully trained to spot human trafficking.
Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 12:54 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A new state law requires all hotel staff in Virginia to be fully trained to spot human trafficking.

“If this bill can save one life, if this bill can rescue one person from being caught into the web of human trafficking, it will be worth it,” 94th District Delegate Shelly Simonds said.

Del. Simonds’ district includes Newport News and Hampton Roads area. She introduced the legislation requiring this training.

“I think Virginia has been a hotspot for human trafficking, because we have major highways going through the state, we’ve got major ports, we’ve got airports, we have a huge tourism industry. So it was a natural thing for us to worry about human trafficking in the commonwealth,” the delegate said.

Hotel staff now look for things like people ordering multiple rooms, or staying for extended periods of time with few personal belongings.

“Hotels are places where people come and go. It’s really important for front desk, especially or housekeeping, to know the signs of human trafficking,” Del. Simonds said.

The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services created a free, online course. Workers must get recertified every two years.

“There is an enforcement aspect of this legislation in the Department of Health when they do their checks they will be checking to make sure that the certificates are on file,” the delegate said.

The legislation has received support from many organizations, including Transformation Freedom Initiative in Albemarle County.

“This crime is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world, but identification rates for victims is at 1%,” TSI Director Anna Nalle said.

TSI is a nonprofit that works to prevent human trafficking in central Virginia.

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