Police make slavery and trafficking arrests after dawn raids in Baldock
PUBLISHED: 18:25 06 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:41 06 September 2017
Police have made a series of arrests related to suspected slavery and trafficking after a number of dawn raids today – including two in Baldock.
Officers were part of a multi-agency operation involving more than 120 people which targeted a business premise on the industrial estate behind the Tesco Extra superstore, off London Road, as well as a residential address in nearby Park Close.
Two further residential addresses were also raided – Winterscroft Road in Hoddesdon and Kenerne Drive in Barnet – as well as a commercial property in Wycherley Crescent, Barnet.
Six men were identified as potential victims of trafficking or slavery and were taken to a special reception centre set for them in Letchworth, in order to provide support for them.
The operation was jointly-led by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Tropic and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, with support from the National Crime Agency, immigration enforcement officers from the Home Office, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and local policing units.
The Red Cross provided support for the victims at the reception centre, after the fire service decided the living quarters at the business address in Baldock were not fit for purpose due to safety concerns.
In all, 13 men were arrested on suspicion of either criminal or immigration offences.
Those arrested on suspicion of immigration offences were dealt with by immigration enforcement team, while those accused of criminal offences related to trafficking or slavery were taken into custody by police in Hertfordshire.
Operation Tropic co-ordinates the policing response to human trafficking and modern slavery in Hertfordshire.
Detective Inspector Luke Whinnett said: “Hertfordshire Constabulary and our partners are committed to tackling human trafficking and modern slavery in the county. This operation shows that partnership commitment as different agencies have come together, acting on intelligence that we have received.
“There is no doubt that some of the people we encountered today were living in appalling and unsafe conditions. They are now receiving support from a specialist support centre.
“Slavery and trafficking does occur in Hertfordshire and I would encourage people to look out for the signs and report any concerns they have to police via the non-emergency number 101.”