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Police campaign to clamp down on modern slavery

It's a crime that can be seen in any town and on any High Street and is often ignored, yet modern slavery is on the rise. In the Thames Valley, around three modern slavery crimes are recorded every week, with a 400 per cent increase last year.

Victims are tricked or threatened into working long hours, for little or no pay, but unable to leave due to fear and intimidation - with identity documents stolen or withheld. This week, police have launched a campaign to try to tackle the problem. Cary Johnston reports.

Interviewees: Det Supt Nick John, Thames Valley Police and Nicola Bell of the Rahab Support Project.

Reconstruction courtesy of the Unseen charity.

Police raid brothels to rescue girls from 'modern-day slavery'

Police have raided dozens of brothels across Kent and Sussex as part of a national crackdown on the criminal gangs trafficking young women into the sex trade. Four eastern European girls are being offered the help of welfare services after the raid in Ashford. In many cases victims are forced into prostitution, in what police describe as a form of modern-day slavery.

Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Fordham from Kent Police issued an appeal for the public to report any suspicious activity.Position12reorder

‘Operation Perceptional has been coordinated by the National Crime Agency and although this is very much business as usual for the force, we are keen to play our part and raise awareness.

‘Kent is the gateway to Europe and does provide criminals the opportunity to traffic individuals through the region. However, this is a national problem which we are working hard with our partners to target.

‘Prostitution is a hidden crime, it is rare that victims come forward and as a consequence of that it is important that people come forward with information if they have concerns about a suspected brothel operating in their neighbourhood.

‘It is often the case a house, flat or bungalow is rented for a short period of time and has two or more women residing in it. There will be a steady stream of male visitors who stay for a short time and periodically the occupants of the property will change.

‘The woman working within the brothels are often brought into the country under the false pretence of working in the beauty or child care industry, they are intimidated and have their passports taken away before being forced into prostitution. They are some of the vulnerable people that we come across and I would ask anyone who has information that may help us safeguard the future wellbeing of these individuals, to come forward.’

– Detective Chief Superintendent Rob Fordham, Kent Police


Man arrested in connection with slavery offences

Dorset Police today carried out a warrant at an address in Bournemouth as part of an investigation into forced labour and human trafficking.

Police officers and staff were involved in the operation at a business unit in Ringwood Road.

As a result six suspected male victims, aged between 20 and 30 years, have been taken to a place of safety and are being given all the help and support they need.

A 23-year-old man from Bournemouth has been arrested in connection with slavery offences.

Today’s operation is the result of a detailed and protracted inquiry and our primary aim is to protect and safeguard vulnerable victims. Human trafficking is happening up and down the country. In such cases victims are often forced to live and work in poor and unsanitary conditions, sometimes with little or no pay. Some may not recognise themselves as victims and, even if they do, they may feel unable to speak to the police or other authorities. Human trafficking is a serious offence and Dorset Police remains committed towards tackling such cases."

– Detective Superintendent Kevin Connolly, director of investigations