Three arrested on suspicion of trafficking in Wisbech
13th May 2013
Three people have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking offences in Wisbech.
The arrests followed early morning raids on two homes last week by officers from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and Cambridgeshire Police.
Warrants were executed as the latest action taken as part of Operation Pheasant - a multi-agency task force set up to tackle ongoing worker issues in the Cambridgeshire town.
A 26-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman were arrested at an address in Cannon Street while a 34-year-old man was arrested at an address in Prince of Wales Close. All three have been released on conditional bail until July 12.
Items were also seized from the two residential addresses that were entered under warrant at about 5am.
GLA Chief Executive Paul Broadbent said: “The aim of the GLA is „to work in partnership to protect vulnerable and exploited workers‟ and Op Pheasant is an excellent example of how this approach can be effective.
“We will continue to join forces with all other relevant organisations to tackle those involved in criminal or unlicensed activity in the sectors we regulate. By doing this we can help provide a level playing field on which all lawful operators we licence can flourish.”
Inspector Robin Sissons said: “Operation Pheasant is focusing on serious issues in Wisbech and as a result of our joint working we have discovered crimes that were previously hidden.
“Our investigations are now focusing on preventing further people being exploited and victimised. Working together like this allows us to have a greater impact. I am pleased with how the investigation is going thus far but there is still a lot more work to be done.”
Op Pheasant builds on an existing local partnership targeting a range of issues that have emerged in Wisbech like petty crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour, including theft, street drinking and rough sleeping.
At the more serious end of the spectrum the task force also aims to tackle widespread exploitation of migrant workers in the area with particular focus on fraud, poor practice in the private rented sector, trafficking and forced labour.
A diverse team of different agencies has been assembled to assist with the operation with partners including: HMRC, the Home Office, Trading Standards, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue and the Serious Organised Crime Agency, as well as the local police, the GLA and others.
Press release issued by GLA Communications and Information Officer Paul Fearn. Contact 0115 959 7069 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
1. The GLA operates throughout the UK and is a Non Departmental Public Body.
2. The authority was formed in 2006 in the wake of the Morecambe Bay cockle picking disaster when 23 Chinese workers drowned on the sands.
3. The GLA licences companies that supply labour (gangmasters) to agriculture, horticulture, food processing and packaging, forestry and shellfish gathering.
4. Its main strategic priorities are to prevent worker exploitation, protect vulnerable people and tackle unlicensed and criminal activity.
5. Under the Gangmasters Licensing Act (2004) it is illegal both to operate as, or employ the services of, an unlicensed gangmaster.
6. Nearly 1,200 labour providers are licensed by the GLA.