GALLERY: Seven people rescued from homes in Huntingdon after human trafficking raids
- Credit: Archant
Seven victims of human trafficking were rescued on Thursday as police carried out dawn raids in Huntingdonshire.
At 5am officers smashed in doors at homes at Keln Leas in St Ives, and at Sallowbush Road, Sapley Park, The Whaddons and Thongsley in Huntingdon, as they carried out an operation aimed at ending the plight of those who had been suspected of being forced to stay and work in this country.
Seven Lithuanians were taken from the properties to a reception centre in Huntingdonshire where they were being looked after by the Salvation Army.
Eleven people were arrested during the raids, which involved officers from the Border Force, Huntingdonshire District Council, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and the British Red Cross.
Eight people were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking. Three were from Thongsley – men aged 19 and 21 and a woman aged 19; one each from Sallowbush Road and The Whaddons – men aged 23 and 26 – and 22-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man from Sapley Park.
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In St Ives a 45-year-old man from Keln Leas was arrested.
All eight were bailed until August 8.
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Another woman, aged 20 from Thonglsey, was also arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, but was released without charge. Two of the others were arrested on miscellaneous offences such as drugs possession and the third was detained on a European arrest warrant.
Detective Inspector Leigh Allman, crime manager for Huntingdonshire, said: “This has been in the planning for some time, as with any major operation it has taken a few weeks to prepare.
“Human trafficking is a new type of offence we are investigating. For us we wad to make clear any reports or exploitation and trafficking are dealt with swiftly.”
He added: “We are committed to working with partner agencies to tackle the exploitation and trafficking of workers in the Huntingdonshire area and targeting those who gain from others’ suffering.
“Victims are promised a better life in the UK with well-paid work but often end up in over-crowded accommodation, on very low wages and with someone else controlling their affairs.
“Victims are often too frightened to come forward and reluctant to seek help from authorities. However, I would urge anyone who feels they are being exploited or has any concerns about individual workers to contact police.”
Major Anne Read, anti-trafficking response co-ordinator at the Salvation Army, which is looking after the victims, said: “It is vital that victims of trafficking receive immediate access to specialised support. Our team has been working to assess the needs of the victims and ensure that they have access to accommodation and support at safe houses if needed.
“The Salvation Army operates a Government contract to provide vital help and support to adult victims of this pitiless exploitation which gives them the very best chance to try to recover through the comprehensive specialised services we can offer working with our partners.”