Modern slavery initiative arrests three
Takeaways and car washes in Telford were visited as part of a multi-agency taskforce enforcement initiative last week to help prevent modern slavery.
On Wednesday (29 May), West Mercia Police joined forces with officers from Immigration Enforcement and Telford & Wrekin Council Public Protection to visit three takeaways across the town while on Thursday and Friday, in partnership with Telford & Wrekin Council HMRC, Environmental Health, Community Safety and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the team visited eight car washes.
The visits aimed to raise awareness of modern slavery and the signs staff can look out for and what to do if they suspect someone is being criminally exploited through modern slavery. Modern slavery includes a range of offences including labour exploitation and human trafficking, often those exploited do not realise they are a victim.
The initiative, codenamed MATES (multi-agency taskforce enforcement strategy), runs at various times throughout the year and is part of West Mercia Police’s commitment, in partnership with other agencies, to tackle serious and organised crime and protect those at harm.
Three people were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences and four people will now be dealt with Immigration Enforcement.
Sergeant Ed Pontin is from West Mercia Police’s Harm Reduction Hub based in Telford.
He said: “Working in partnership with other agencies is absolutely crucial to help us tackle these issues and make sure people who are being criminally exploited are safeguarded. Enforcement activity plays a part and where there are obvious signs someone is being exploited we will not hesitate to take robust action to identify and pursue those who are responsible but we also need to make people aware of the signs and what they should look out for.
“People who are being exploited don’t always realise they are a victim which is why, in partnership with other agencies, it’s really important we make these visits.”
Police want to stress it is not the case that the owners of the premises visited are involved in any exploitation and are often unaware their staff are actually victims of modern slavery.
To find out more about how to spot the signs of modern slavery visit https://www.unseenuk.org
If you suspect modern slavery is taking place, ring the UK Modern Slavery Helpline run by @UnseenOrg on 08000 121 700 or download The STOP APP to report human trafficking.