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Week of action targets modern slavery offences in East Surrey

22 May, 2018 16:30 News

Warrants, arrests, licensing checks and referrals to partner agencies were all part of a week of action targeting modern slavery offences across East Surrey.

Officers carrying out checks to identify sex workers who are potential victims of trafficking or modern slavery identified a Romanian woman who had not been trafficked but was in need of support. They put her in touch with partner agency Streetlight UK, which offers specialist support to women involved in sexual exploitation. The referral will help to ensure she is safeguarded as best as she can be in the future.

Officers also identified a Chinese woman, whose living conditions suggested that she had been trafficked and a referral was made to the National Crime Agency. She has since been housed in an immigration centre for her own welfare.

The week, which also included licensing checks by officers and Police Community Support Officers at various premises, including car washes, takeaways and farms, in each of the four boroughs of Epsom and Ewell, Tandridge, Mole Valley and Reigate and Banstead, had begun with Operation Memory, a multi-agency operation which was carried out last Monday at an address in Shipley Bridge, near Horley. The focus of the operation was to establish whether exploitation through slavery, poor living conditions or low and non-existent wages was taking place, and resulted in three arrests of two men and a woman on suspicion of modern slavery and fraud offences. Two stolen vehicles were also seized and the investigation remains ongoing.

The week was part of the national Project Aidant led by the National Crime Agency and Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking, with a particular focus on adults who have been trafficked to the UK, or exploited in the UK, for the purposes of labour exploitation.

Temporary Inspector Joe Easterbrook said:

“Our week of activity which was focused on modern slavery offences, and in particular on identifying any potential victims of exploitation, has shown that modern slavery is a threat and is happening around us in our local communities.

“Protecting the vulnerable and exploited victims of this horrific crime and pursuing those who commit it is something we take extremely seriously.

“I urge anyone who has any concerns about activity relating to individuals being forced to work against their will for low or no wages, or being controlled or mistreated, to report it to us.”

Anyone with concerns about individuals who may be involved are urged to call us on 101 (999 in an emergency) or go to https://surrey.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/human-trafficking/

Alternatively, suspicions can be raised anonymously through independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

If you think you are a victim of modern slavery please seek help. The Modern Slavery Helpline can assist you to understand what help is available including information, advice and ways to access support. The helpline is confidential and you don't have to give your name if you don’t want to. For more information, visit https://www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/ or call 08000 121 700

The Salvation Army can also help. Call their 24 hour helpline on 0300 3038151 or visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/human-trafficking

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