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Hertfordshire Constabulary joins week of action targeting child trafficking

4 Jul 2019

Hertfordshire Constabulary took part in Operation EMPACT week of action (17-23 June), a Europe-wide initiative to combat the trafficking of children. 

During the week the constabulary’s modern slavery unit, Operation Tropic, carried out activities focusing on child trafficking and the exploitation of under 18s. They were support by the Child Online Safeguarding Team and HALO (Sexual Exploitation of Children and Young People) teams, as well as officers from the Special Constabulary and Hertsmere Intervention.

The operations also involved regional partners from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, Essex Police, Hertsmere Borough Council and Border Force.

Several operations were carried out during the week including the execution of warrants, as well as the targeting of major transport hubs and businesses identified as potentially involved in child trafficking. A pro-active operation was carried out in Potters Bar, alongside Hertsmere Intervention officers to raise awareness among local communities about recognising and reporting child trafficking and exploitation, particularly in businesses.  

During the week 25 warrants were executed in Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, Watford, Radlett, Abbotts Langley, Broxbourne, Borehamwood, St Albans, Harpenden, Welwyn, Hertford and Barnet. In total six arrests were made and five voluntary interviews were conducted. A number of children were also identified and safeguarding measures were put in place due to this activity.

Those arrested were:

  • Two 18 year old men from Stevenage were arrested on suspicion of online grooming of a child
  • A 44 year old man from Watford was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children
  • A 30 year old man from St Albans was arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children
  • A 27 year old man from Potters Bar was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences
  • A 21 year old man from Potters Bar was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences

Detective Sergeant Jill Green from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Tropic said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are growing issues in Hertfordshire and across the UK, which are often undetected and go largely unnoticed by most people.

“The Europe-wide weeks of action give a focus to operations by agencies and organisations across the continent to work together to identify and rescue trafficked and exploited individuals. Children are especially vulnerable to exploitation and being moved around by adults for reasons that are detrimental to their welfare. As part of the drive to reduce child trafficking and exploitation we are keen to raise awareness of this little understood issue and urge people to be vigilant and report anything they consider suspicious or concerns them about the welfare of a child.”

Children who have been trafficked may:

  • Have no access to their parents or guardians
  • Look intimidated and behave in a way that does not correspond with behaviour typical of children their age
  • Have no friends of their own age outside of work
  • Have no access to education
  • Have no time for playing
  • Live apart from other children and in substandard accommodations
  • Eat apart from other members of the ”family”
  • Be given only leftovers to eat
  • Be engaged in work that is not suitable for children
  • Travel unaccompanied by adults
  • Travel in groups with persons who are not relatives.

The following might also indicate that children have been trafficked:

  • The presence of child-sized clothing typically worn for doing manual or sex work
  • The presence of toys, beds and children’s clothing in inappropriate places such as brothels and factories
  • The claim made by an adult that he or she has “found” an unaccompanied child
  • The finding of unaccompanied children carrying telephone numbers for calling taxis
  • The discovery of cases involving illegal adoption

If you have any concerns about a young person displaying some of these signs you can report information online or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via web chat here

You can also call the non-emergency number 101, and ask for Herts Police.

Alternatively, you can stay 100% anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form

 

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