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Vera Baird praises human trafficking crackdown

11th May 2017

Northumbria Police has made12 arrests in connection with human trafficking, labour exploitation and modern day slavery.

Officers carried out two-days of action which targeted eight addresses in the west end of Newcastle.

In total, 12 people have been arrested on suspicion of trafficking people into the UK for exploitation, seven currently remain in police custody.

The searches were carried out by officers’ and police are working with Newcastle City Council, National Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service, Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Department for Working Pensions, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, NHS,  Immigration, British Red Cross, and Hope for Justice as part of the operation.

Detective Superintendent Steve Barron, of Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding Department, said: “This is part of an intelligence led policing response to a problem that is becoming more apparent across Europe and it is important that we are robust in our efforts to tackle this type of crime.

“This type of crime forces people through threats or coercion to work for little or no pay, or to pay off outstanding debts.

“The activity carried out over the last two days has been a truly multi-agency effort that has focused on helping vulnerable people and the four victims identified today have now been taken to places of safety so they can be supported by specialists from partner agencies and our officers.

“It is important that we work together with not only our partners but the community. We all have a responsibility to help protect those who may be vulnerable and we believe that Safeguarding is everyone’s business. We urge people to be the eyes and ears of the community and if you see something suspicious or something that doesn’t feel right then please report it to police.

“Protecting vulnerable people is the absolute priority for us and between us all, we will ensure victims are given the best care and support at this difficult time.”

Police also warn that more action will be taken and hope it sends a stark message to criminals who are exploiting others that police will take action.

D/Supt Barron continued to say: “Sadly we know this is an increasing issue not just here in Northumbria but across the country and continent. This sort of exploitation is simply not acceptable and we are taking robust action to target the key players who are at the helm of this organised criminality to bring them down and prevent other victims being trafficked into the country for their personal gain.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, said: “As this proactive crackdown by Northumbria Police and partners demonstrates, our officers take human trafficking and exploitation very seriously – we will not tolerate the enslaving of anyone, simple as that. Swift, direct action will be taken when any such offences are suspected.

“I hope anyone caught up in terrible exploitation can find the confidence to speak to our officers. It’s so important that we free, help and support these victims and expose those who are responsible, doing all we can to ensure they are brought to justice. I’d also like to urge everyone to be vigilant in spotting the signs. If something doesn’t seem right, the chances are it’s not. I will ensure Northumbria Police continues to tackle this issue head on.”

Potential victims of modern slavery receive safe, secure and appropriate accommodation and support through the Adult Victims of Modern Slavery Care & Coordination Services Contract, which is delivered by The Salvation Army.

Anyone with concerns about crime and human trafficking where they live should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.