Police complete week of action focussed on human trafficking

The Jet2 plane was escorted back to Stansted Airport by RAF jets on June 22. Picture: MARK DAVISON

The Jet2 plane was escorted back to Stansted Airport by RAF jets on June 22. Picture: MARK DAVISON - Credit: Archant

Police working out of Stansted Airport have spoken to more than 1,500 passengers in the last week to raise awareness of victims of human trafficking.

As part of a National Crime Agency week of action (September 16-19), Essex Police worked with Border Force, the eastern region special operations unit, the Sexual Abuse Referral Centre and the charity Justice & Care, to identify potential victims being trafficked into the country for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Over the course of four days, police monitored more than 20 flights coming from countries including Bulgaria, Moldova and Turkey, and included flights where vulnerable people may have been trafficked out of the UK.

Police said they conducted enhanced checks on four people throughout the week, providing them with additional advice and support. One referral to the 'national referral mechanism' has been made.

Marsha Humphreys, one of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate's modern slavery and human trafficking co-ordinators, said: "This was a great opportunity to speak to people from lots of different countries and backgrounds about the very real dangers of human trafficking.

"Vulnerable victims can be promised stable jobs and then be brought into the country and forced to work in brothels or through other adult sex work providers. They're then stuck in a life of servitude, unable to break free from paying never-ending debts to the people who are controlling every aspect of their lifestyle.

"Whilst we know that the majority of sex work is legal and safe, we need to continue to protect those who are being exploited. By working with our partners this week, we've been able to have specialist resources available at all times, including victim navigators from Justice & Care and those who are trained in supporting those who have been subjected to sexual abuse from the SARC, meaning that we can offer assistance and reassurance as soon as possible."

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If you have any information about human trafficking or modern slavery offences taking place, call Essex Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.