Hertfordshire Constabulary takes part in operation targeting labour exploitation
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Police in Hertfordshire have been supporting the most recent national initiative to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT).
The latest phase of activity, under Operation Aident, took place between 21 March and 11 April with enforcement activity around the county checking businesses for what is known as labour exploitation. Nail bars in Abbots Langley, Hatfield, Potters Bar, Baldock, Letchworth, Harpenden and St Albans were subject to unannounced visits by police working with partner agencies.
Hertfordshire’s specialist MSHT unit worked with the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams to conduct the visits, alongside immigration services, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.
The MSHT unit coordinates the force’s response to this kind of crime, which includes support to those suspected of being victims, who can be some of the most vulnerable people living in the country. Fortunately, on this occasion no victims of exploitation were identified at any of the businesses.
Detective Inspector Alex Willcox, from the Serious and Organised Crime Command, said: “Modern Slavery is a serious and often hidden crime which continues to affect people across the UK.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, victims were displaced, and the threat of labour exploitation was heavily impacted as public facing businesses closed often for lengthy periods of time. Now restrictions have been lifted, it is likely that some offenders will reassert their control over victims. For this reason, this intensification period focused on labour exploitation, in particular nail bars.”
The national initiative to tackle MSHT, codenamed Operation Aident, is coordinated at a countrywide level by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Spot the signs of labour exploitation: Anyone with concerns about human trafficking or modern slavery should call police via 101 or the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency call 999. The Beacon hotline 03000 11 55 55 is open from Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 9am-5pm. Follow Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership on Twitter: @HertsMSP