Operation to tackle sexual exploitation in Hertfordshire
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Hertfordshire Constabulary has been supporting a national initiative to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT).
The latest phase of activity, under Operation Aidant, took place between Monday 22 August and Friday 9 September, with enforcement activity being carried out around the county to safeguard those being sexually exploited by criminal gangs.
Hertfordshire’s specialist MSHT unit worked with the local Safer Neighbourhood Teams and partner agencies to carry out warrants after intelligence was received about brothels being run at two addresses in St Albans and Watford.
At the St Albans address MSHTU officers safeguarded an individual who they believed was vulnerable to exploitation. At the address in Watford officers discovered a vulnerable individual being exploited by a man who was using the property as a brothel. A 51 year old woman from China was also arrested under section 45 of the Immigration Act for overstaying her visa. The officers checked on the tenant’s wellbeing, made the property secure and are actively working with partners in housing to relocate the tenant to safe accommodation.
Detective Sergeant Jill Green, 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 with sexual exploitation accounting for a significant number of these offences. Working in this area is challenging for a number of reasons and although not all sex workers are victims of modern slavery, the approach we take remains similar with the focus of law enforcement to improve safety and target those who exploit or cause harm.
“We will not tolerate the exploitation of vulnerable people by organised crime groups and we continue to carry out such visits with our local partners to offer support to victims, allow them to make informed choices and offer them a way out. Each report also feeds into a wider intelligence picture and helps us to catch those responsible, further protecting vulnerable people.”
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.