Over 100 police officers involved in Thursdays modern slavery raids in Deeside
The clatter of a police helicopter hovering a few hundred feet above Deeside at 6am on Thursday morning signalled the start of Operation Zeren.
Three carefully planned raids were being carried by North Wales Police and officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) aimed at tackling modern slavery in the Deeside area.
More than 100 police officers took part in the multi-agency operation which also involved Flintshire County Council, Social Services, the Health Authority and British Red Cross.
The raids were part of an investigation into the exploitation of ‘manual labourers’
The operation follows complaints that at least two young men had been held virtual ‘captives’ for a significant period of time and forced to perform unpaid manual labour such as car washing and cleaning guttering.
— North Wales Police (@NWPolice) April 27, 2017
One local man was arrested for alleged human trafficking offences and was interviewed by detectives, another man will be ‘voluntarily’ interviewed at a later date.
Officers spoke to nine people whose welfare they had concerns for, police say they effectively ‘freed’ three men from slavery, they were taken them to a specialist reception centre to be given support, they had been held by a number of people and forced to perform unpaid manual labour at locations across the UK.
One raid took place at a Traveller Park in Deeside where living conditions for those who were being exploited were “utterly appalling” said DCI Harrison.
[miptheme_quote author=” DCI Neil Harrison at North Wales Police” style=”text-left”]I’m aware today’s operation has caused a degree of inconvenience to local residents and I’m extremely grateful for the communities continued support and patience. I’m aware through very welcome feedback that our action has been welcomed by the public who clearly support what we are trying to do. Thank you. [/miptheme_quote]
During the course of Thursday’s operation, Police and NCA officers recovered a firearm, stolen property and a ‘significant amount of unaccountable cash’
DCI Neil Harrison at North Wales Police who led today’s operation ‘on the ground’ said
As a result of this morning operation we have safeguarded, or simply put, freed, at least three people who are now being assessed at a ‘Reception Centre’ within the county by a number of organisations.
Specially trained Police Officers will speak with them all to ascertain what levels of criminality they may have been subjected to.
The investigation into Modern Slavery offences can often be a long drawn out and delicate process but we are determined to ensure we conduct an investigation as thoroughly, as professionally and as compassionately as possible.
We cannot tackle this abhorrent crime alone without information and intelligence from our communities and so it’s vital we are told of any suspicions.
We’d rather investigate and establish an innocent explanation rather than miss an opportunity to free someone so please phone in your concerns.
The raids are part of North Wales Police Operation Scorpion, the force’s fight against serious and organised crime in the region.
Paul Lillywhite of the National Crime Agency said:
Our officers, in partnership with the police and government, are safeguarding victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. Those behind these wicked crimes exploit their victims for profit with no regard for their rights, wellbeing or safety.
We are pursuing the perpetrators and building a clear picture of the threat, which takes place throughout the country and affects some of society’s most vulnerable people.
Modern Slavery on our doorstep
On the back of Thursday’s operation, many people expressed shock and outrage at the news modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking is a big issue right here on our doorsteps and in our communities, the raids and subsequent arrest is just the ‘tip of an iceberg’ in relation to the true scale of the crime.
Even though most people think that slavery only exists overseas, modern slavery in the UK is thriving. The British Government estimates that up to 13,000 people are in modern slavery in the UK today.
Most people are trafficked into the UK from overseas, but there is also a significant number of British nationals in slavery. The most common countries of origin are Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania and Poland.
Most commonly people are trafficked into forced labour in industries such as agriculture, construction, hospitality, manufacturing and car washes. Many women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation.
Many people, again mostly women and girls, also end up in domestic slavery. Others, particularly children, are forced into crime such as cannabis production, petty theft or begging.
How does it happen?
Typically, a person coming from a situation of poverty and lack of opportunity gets an offer of an apparently good job in the UK. Often the victim has to take a loan from an agent to pay for the recruitment fees and for the journey.
When the person arrives in Britain, the job and the conditions they were promised are completely different.
Their passport is taken away, and they’re told they need to pay off the debt before they can leave. Violence or threats are common practice, both against the victim as well as their family back home.
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10 things to know about slavery in the UK
- The UK Government estimates there are up to 13,000 people in slavery in Britain today
- Only 1% of enslaved people in the UK have the chance of seeing their exploiter brought to justice
- In 2015, over 3,000 people, including nearly 1,000 children, were referred to British authorities as potential victims of slavery
- But nearly 40% of them were still awaiting a decision about their victim status at the end of the year
- From those who have received a final decision, only less than half were supported as victims
- Victims of slavery are four times less likely to be acknowledged as victims if they are non-European
- Up to 34% of victims of slavery are estimated to be re-trafficked
- Children are often deliberately targeted for their vulnerability
- One in four victims of slavery in the UK is a child
- 2016 saw the first conviction and sentencing of a British businessman for human trafficking
[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator color=”black”][vc_column_text]North Wales Police has further information on its modern slavery website at www.north-wales.police.uk/advice-and-support/stay-safe/modern-slavery.aspx.
If you suspect slavery is happening near you please report it to police on 101, anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 012 1700 or BAWSO on 08007318147.
The victim help service is available from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. It can be contacted by Freephone on 0300 3030159, by email at: email@example.com, or via the websites www.victimhelpcentrenorthwales.org.uk or www.canolfangymorthiddioddefwyrgogleddcymru.org.uk[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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