Nail bars and car washes in Cleveland fined £110k after modern slavery raids

Cleveland Police visited businesses unannounced to crack down on modern slavery, human trafficking and organised immigration crime. Credit: PA Images

Two people were arrested and £110,000 worth of fines issued following human trafficking raids.

Employers of illegal workers have been ordered to pay the fines following the unannounced inspections by officers.

Cleveland Police Complex Exploitation Team (CET) were working with Immigration Enforcement, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Cleveland Fire Brigade and the Environment Agency to take action against those suspected of being involved in modern slavery, human trafficking and organised immigration crime.

They visited 15 premises, including eight nail bars and seven car washes.

Fines worth £110,000 were issued and a man and a woman were arrested and detained under the Immigration Act, with a decision pending on whether they will be removed from the UK.

Cleveland Police said workers who may be at risk of modern slavery have been spoken with and offered support and safeguarding.

It comes after a report in October 2022 found there are more modern slavery victims in the North East than ever before.

Signs of modern slavery include:

  • Poor physical appearance - victims may look malnourished or have physical injuries

  • Lack of contact with others - victims may avoid contact through fear of violence or deportation

  • Isolation - victims may not travel alone or leave their house or place of work

  • Absence of belongings - victims may not have any ID or a passport and wear the same clothes every day

  • Poor living environment - victims' accommodation may be overcrowded, dirty, or unsuitable for those living there

Detective Inspector Dave Glass, from the CET, said: "The complex exploitation team will continue to work closely with partner agencies and charities to tackle the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking across Cleveland and offer safeguarding and support to victims.

"Those who are subjected to labour exploitation often have extremely poor living conditions, they work with a lack of protective equipment and can be afraid to accept payment, with their wages often taken from them by an exploiter."

Anyone who thinks they know of a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking is urged to report it to Cleveland Police on 101.

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