Five men and one woman have been arrested for modern slavery offences following a pre-planned operation by officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.
The warrants were executed this morning, Tuesday, 9 February, in Harrow, Romford, Hayes, Forest Gate and Harlow in Essex. They were carried out with assistance from officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG)
Those arrested are aged between 30 and 55 years-old. They have been arrested for a variety of offences, including suspicion of holding a person in slavery, human trafficking, controlling prostitution and money laundering.
This is an ongoing investigation to target an eastern European Organised Crime Group (OCG) who are believed to be trafficking and exploiting people brought to the UK from Poland.
One address visited in Hayes was identified as a brothel.
Searches at the addresses are ongoing. Enquiries continue.
Detective Superintendent, Andy Furphy from Central Specialist Crime, said: “This investigation will continue as we look to find everyone involved and uncover the true scale of this illegal operation.
“Unfortunately, this type of exploitation is still happening across London and the UK. The Met’s modern slavery team works around the clock to identify people involved in human trafficking and forced labour, and we play a role in protecting and supporting hundreds of victims each year.
“We need help from the public as they have an important role to play in recognising and reporting modern slavery. If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, report it. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.
“Often those affected do not see themselves as potential victims of sexual exploitation and many will have been coerced into this life to make money for an organised crime network.
“We believe there are victims of modern slavery in every borough across London and the public may encounter them every day, possibly without realising. As well as being sexually exploited, victims have been found working in construction, domestic servitude, agriculture, cannabis factories and in places you use yourself, such as car washes, barbers and nail bars.
“Victims are often told the police and authorities in the UK are not to be trusted and with limited English are unable to seek help, even if they want to.”
If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with, may be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and require support, please call The Salvation Army’s 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733. This is the best way to get support to anyone you suspect might be a victim
You can also report a suspicion or seek advice through the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
You can also report to the police online at www.met.police.uk or by calling 101, in case of an emergency dial 999. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.