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Nine arrested in connection with human trafficking, sexual exploitation and prostitution

Bedfordshire Police raided four premises in Luton at around 7am this morning in connection with prostitution, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

Nine people were arrested in relation to human trafficking and prostitution offences and six women victims and one child have been identified and taken to safety.

The process of closing down three locations in relation to brothel activity is currently underway.

Bedfordshire Police executed early morning raids at four premises in Luton Credit: PA Images

Today’s enforcement operation is the result of a long running investigation into organised criminal gangs bringing young women into the country for sexual exploitation and prostitution.

The operation is about alleviating the suffering of the victims and tackling the human cost this type of criminality creates as well as bringing offenders to justice.

– Detective Inspector Rob Regan

Following the police operation The Salvation Army worked with the victims and provided practical and emotional support as needed at a reception centre.

The Salvation Army is working with Bedfordshire Police to rescue and support potential victims of trafficking. It is vital that victims of trafficking receive immediate access to specialised support.

Our team has been working to assess the needs of the victims and ensure that they have access to accommodation and support at safe houses if needed.

The Salvation Army operates a Government contract to provide vital help and support to adult victims of this pitiless exploitation which gives them the very best chance to try and recover through the comprehensive specialised services we can offer working with our partners.

The safety of victims and support for the Police in successfully prosecuting the perpetrators of this horrific crime are our key priorities. It is therefore not appropriate at this stage to disclose any further details about the victims or the nature of this crime.

– Major Anne Read, The Salvation Army

Anyone with information or concerns about human trafficking or prostitution should call Bedfordshire police, in confidence, at Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.

Alternatively you can contact the independent crime fighting charity, Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Appeal for hammer attack witnesses

Police in Bedford are appealing for witnesses after a 37-year-old man was robbed and hit over the head with a hammer.

It happened just after 1pm on Friday afternoon when the man was followed into an alleyway that connects Maitland Street and Battison Street.

The victim was taken to hospital for stitches to his head.

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Police seize off-road bikes

One of the motorbikes confiscated by police Credit: Bedfordshire Police

Two off-road motorbikes have been seized by police in Luton after complaints of anti-social behaviour.

Officers on their own off road bikes have been patrolling the Lewsey and Marsh Farm areas.

Police are warning that anyone found riding motorbikes on public parks or open spaces faces having them confiscated.

Violent attack on Bedford pensioners

Carol Oxenham, 65, and Merlin O'Brien, 72, were attacked in Bedford town centre. Credit: Bedfordshire Police.

Two pensioners were attacked in an unprovoked attack n Bedford town centre.

A 65-year-old man was left with a fractured eye socket and a broken jaw while a 72-year-old suffered major bruising and swelling, including two black eyes, following the attack early on Sunday.

The men had left a kebab shop in the Broadway at about 1am and were walking along the footpath at Cavendish Street.

They were suddenly set upon by two men, who were part of a larger group. They were kicked, punched and stamped on.

Police said they believed there was no motive for the attack.

Det Con Andy Boston, from Bedford Police, said: "Even for an experienced detective, it's shocking to see the severity of injuries cause to two gentleman of this age who have been attacked for no obvious reason."

Police are appealing for witnesses.

Two women sexually assault within 15 minutes of each other

Two women were sexually assaulted in Dunstable on Sunday. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

Two women were sexually assaulted within 15 minutes of each other in Dunstable yesterday evening.

Bedfordshire Police are appealing for witnesses to the attacks which happened at around 5.15pm close to Apollo Close and 5.25pm at Priory Gardens on Sunday.

The first victim was walking along the alleyway which links Sundown Avenue and Apollo Close when a man grabbed her shoulder and tried to kiss her while pushing her against a fence.

The 28-year-old bit his tongue as hard as she could but the man then tried to put his hand down her trousers.

She ran away after the fence collapsed and they fell to the floor.

The second victim, aged 55, was walking through Priory Gardens when a man tried to hug and kiss her. He walked off towards High Street North.

The offender in both attacks is described as being a white man of Mediterranean appearance, aged in his mid-20s to late 30s, and between 5ft 5ins and 5ft 8ins tall.

He had dark hair, dark eyes, a strong accent and was wearing a long black coat which came to his knees, dark trousers or jeans and black shoes.

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Police make cash point scam warning

Police in Luton are warning people to be vigilant at cash points in the town after two people were approached and had their cards taken from them.

It relates to an incident outside the Lloyds Bank on Riddy Lane and another outside the BP garage on Barton Road.

One victim, a 43 year old woman had her card taken after two men approached her and cancelled the transaction. Shortly after a 77 year old man had his card taken, with the men also managing to withdraw £250 from his account.

Public meeting held over death of Leon Briggs

A community leader says a meeting held to provide answers over the death of a man in police custody in Luton helped avoid a possible riot.

Around 250 people turned up last night, to ask questions about what happened to Leon Briggs.

He died last Monday, after being detained in a street, under the Mental Health Act. Nick Quraishi reports.

Chief Constable on investigation into death of Leon Briggs

The Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police has denied 'closing ranks' after the death of a man in custody.

Leon Briggs died at Luton police station after being detained under the Mental Health Act.

Friends and family of Mr Briggs demanded answers from the force at a public meeting in Luton last night. Five police officers and two support staff have been suspended while an investigation is carried out.

Five officers and two support staff suspended after death of man in custody

Five police officers and two support staff who are under investigation after the death of a man in custody at Luton police station were tonight suspended from duty.

Bedfordshire Police chief constable Colette Paul said the suspension "in no way jumps to any conclusion" about the investigation currently being carried out by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) police watchdog.

Mr Briggs, 39, described by his family as a "kind, loyal, intelligent" father, died after being detained at Luton police station under the Mental Health Act on Monday.

The suspension has been made after an initial assessment by the IPCC, Ms Paul said.

"Their suspension in no way jumps to any conclusion about the outcome of the investigation, but ensures absolute assurance of neutrality and transparency as the IPCC investigation progresses. The suspension of each member of staff will remain under constant review.

"We continue to co-operate with the investigation to help provide Mr Briggs' family, the Coroner and the IPCC with accurate information about how and why Mr Briggs died."

– Bedfordshire Police chief constable Colette Paul
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