People believed to be modern slaves forced to work on building sites have been freed in raids involving more than 100 police and Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) agents.
Two Indian men were arrested in Coventry and two men and a woman were arrested in South Buckinghamshire.
GLAA officers made the arrests in Coventry at addresses north and east of the city centre on the morning of Thursday last week (13 September).
A 44-year-old Romanian man has been safeguarded and has entered the government’s National Referral Mechanism, a framework for ensuring potential modern slavery and human trafficking victims receive the support they need.
The GLAA acted following allegations that the suspects had been controlling the Romanian's behaviour by keeping his ID, withholding his wages, and threatening violence.
Both suspects, aged 49 and 38, were held in custody while further enquiries were carried out to identify any further victims.
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Andy Davies said: “This operation saw us act following intelligence we received of potential labour exploitation in the construction sector.
“Modern slavery and labour abuse can come in a variety of forms and I would encourage the public to be aware of some of the key signs that someone is being exploited. Is their freedom being restricted? Is their behaviour slightly unusual? What are their living and working conditions like? Do they have control of their finances? All of these can be signs of labour abuse.
“In some cases, victims may be reluctant to share their story so any information you give can help us rescue and protect vulnerable workers.”
In South Buckinghamshire two men, aged 42 and 49, and a 28-year-old woman were arrested on Tuesday (11 September) when 100 Thames Valley Police and agents from the GLAA and National Crime Agency raided a residential property in Iver.
Eight people believed to be victims of modern slavery were safeguarded.
Detective Inspector James Mather, leading the operation, said: “This operation has safeguarded vulnerable people in society and a number of arrests have been made. Modern slavery is the exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. Officers continue to work closely with our partner agencies to ensure those who carry out this activity are disrupted and any victims are supported.
“We are in the early stages of the investigation and considerable work to identify any further victims will follow. It has been a really positive example of partnership working and I’d like to thank all the officers and agencies involved.”
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Tony Byrne said: “Working with partners to protect vulnerable workers is a fundamental part of our work. It’s great to see agencies come together like this on major operations and deliver really positive results.”
Anyone who has suspicions of modern slavery or labour exploitation offences taking place should call the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 432 0804 or email [email protected].