Ten 'modern slavery victims' safeguarded
30th June 2020
Ten suspected victims of modern slavery have been safeguarded after they were discovered living in a farm building in Bedfordshire.
Police officers were flagged down by two men on a rural road on the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire border at around 9.30pm on Friday June 26.
Officers visited the address the men had come from and established that 13 men and a pregnant woman were staying at the property. All those at the property had travelled to the UK from Romania.
Ten of the people were subsequently safeguarded and taken to a reception centre. All have been offered support under the National Referral Mechanism for victims of modern slavery.
Two men in their 40s and two men in their 20s were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and have been released on bail, pending further enquiries.
Subsequent enquiries were then made by police alongside the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) at an address in Lincolnshire, where a number of further potential victims were identified.
A woman in her 40s and a man in his 30s were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and remain in police custody.
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Jennifer Baines said: “Protecting vulnerable workers is our top priority and taking decisive action with partners is key in ensuring that potential victims of exploitation are safeguarded and given the support that they need.
“Modern slavery and labour abuse sadly exist in communities across the country. In the last year alone, we identified more than 15,000 potential victims of exploitation, which highlights the scale of the challenge we face in tackling the problem.
“Joint operations such as this are therefore crucial in not only rescuing some of the most hidden and at risk people in society, but also disrupting the often organised criminal behaviour behind the exploitation.
“We would strongly encourage the public to be aware of the signs of exploitation, especially in these unprecedented times, and more importantly report their concerns to us and our partners.”
Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn of Bedfordshire Police said: “Sadly, we know that modern slavery and exploitation is going on all around us. Our transport links and demographics make us particularly susceptible to it – almost 400 potential victims were identified in the county last year, the fifth highest of all UK police force areas.
“We are doing all we can to protect victims and dismantle the organised crime groups behind this exploitation, whether they exploit people through the sex industry, county lines drug dealing or in sectors such as agriculture or construction.
“This is a stark reminder that the abhorrence of slavery still exists and I would urge people to get in touch with us if they have any suspicions.”
Anyone with information or concerns about modern slavery can call the GLAA 0n 0800 4320804 or email email@example.com.
You can also contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.
Alternatively you can report things to the Modern Slavery Helpline via 08000 121 700 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
This work forms part of Operation Aidant, a three-week exercise involving the GLAA, National Crime Agency and police to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the UK labour market.