Operation to tackle sexual exploitation in Hertfordshire
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Three suspected brothels were visited by police in Hertfordshire as part of a national initiative to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT).
Activity was carried out around the county as part of the initiative to safeguard those being sexually exploited by criminal gangs.
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s specialist Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU), working with local officers and Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs), carried out safe and wellbeing visits after three addresses in St Albans and Watford which were identified as potential brothels.
Individuals found at the addresses were safeguarded and did not present any welfare concerns or show any indicators or evidence of exploitation. Officers from MSHTU and the ISVAs took the opportunity to raise awareness of the potential dangers of sexual exploitation, how to safely access medical attention and how to report any concerns to police. A 24-year-old Romanian woman was arrested for illegal entry into the UK.
Officers from the MSHTU also delivered awareness training to over 200 partners across Hertfordshire. Partners attending training included Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) employees and Hertfordshire County Council employees and volunteers.
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 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.
For victim support contact the Beacon Victim Care hotline on 03000 11 55 55 is open from Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 9am-5pm.