In a co-ordinated dawn swoop, thirteen people have been arrested in Peterborough as part of a national day of action against people exploitation and trafficking of people across the UK.
In a nationwide 'Operation Launch' Cambridgeshire Police, Peterborough CC and National Crime Agency (NCA) , began actions at 4am today (Tuesday) and also involved the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the British Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Operation Launch being the Peterborough-led response to Operation Mustily, an on-going NCA investigation into people trafficking and enforced labour of Slovakian nationals within the UK, which sees involvement from a number of other forces across the country.
Some 300 police, partner agency officers and staff were involved in Peterborough, some twenty properties across the city. Eight men and seven women, have all been taken to Thorpe Wood Police Station. 2 other men were also arrested, one on suspicion of rape and another on warrant.
Officers engaged with a total of 46 potential victims, 20 of which, including six children, have been removed from the properties and taken to a PCC reception centre, while further enquiries are carried out.
Peterborough Police Commander, Superintendent Tony Ixer, commented: "Our priority has been, and always will be, to protect members of the public from harm. We are committed to working with partner agencies to tackle human trafficking and we are targeting those who gain from others' suffering.
"Victims are often promised a better life in the UK with well-paid work but often end up in over-crowded accommodation and immediately placed in debt to a criminal who controls their affairs.
"They are generally deceived as to the type of work they'll be doing, the conditions of it and the pay they receive.
"They are paid wages well below the legal minimum for extremely long hours and their pay is often taken to service debt on their accommodation.
"Victims are often too frightened to come forward and reluctant to seek help from authorities. However, I would urge anyone who feels they are being exploited or has any concerns about individuals to contact police."
Caroline Young, of the National Crime Agency's Organised Crime Command, said: "Today's coordinated activity highlights the close collaboration between the National Crime Agency, local police forces, the Gangmasters Licencing Authority, regional Organised Crime Units and other UK partners, as well as our international partners, Europol and the Slovakian police, to investigate labour exploitation and human trafficking within the UK.
"These close working relationships help us to tackle the organised crime groups who think they can exploit people for profit. We will continue to work together, sharing intelligence and knowledge to hold offenders to account and safeguard victims."
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