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Harrogate: Suspected modern slavery offences uncovered by traffic cops

Last modified: 26 August 2020 at 04:04pm

A routine stop by traffic cops resulted in three arrests connected to modern slavery offences.

Officers pulled over a silver Audi A4 saloon car on Burn Bridge Road at Pannal, Harrogate, just before 3am on Tuesday (25 August 2020).

Following checks on the vehicle and the occupants, a 47-year-old man from Leeds and a 32-year-old woman from Birmingham were arrested for suspected modern slavery and people trafficking offences. Following questioning, they have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

A 23-year-old woman from Leeds was also arrested for possession of a Class A drug. No further action was taken against her and officers have provided safeguarding support.

Please quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number 12200148140 when providing details about this investigation.

Spotting the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking

Modern slavery is thought to be one of the most lucrative forms of organised crime, with the International Labour Organisation estimating its global annual worth at £150 billion.

Criminals view slavery as low-risk in terms of enforcement and high-reward, in the fact that victims can be exploited repeatedly, generating thousands in illegal profits each year.

Slavery can come in a number of forms, such as:

  • Forced labour– working long hours with little money, under threat and in fear
  • Sexual exploitation– forced prostitution
  • Servitude– being completely subjected to someone more powerful
  • Forced organ donation
  • Forced criminality– cannabis cultivation, begging, shop theft and drug delivering/dealing

Some industries, such as car washes, nail bars, food packaging and processing, construction, care homes, hospitality and catering, fishing, restaurant and takeaways are more susceptible to labour exploitation.

In recent years, North Yorkshire Police has been working hard to establish a picture of what modern slavery and human trafficking looks like in North Yorkshire.

Partnership working is very important in building our understanding of modern slavery. Sharing information and intelligence with our partner agencies enables a multi-agency response, allowing police to run operations alongside colleagues from the Home Office, HMRC and local agencies such as Trading Standards and the Environment Agency.

In 2018, the North Yorkshire and City of York Modern Slavery Partnership was established, working alongside the Modern Slavery and Illegal and Exploitative Working Group.

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, Head of Safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said: “Understanding and tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is a priority to North Yorkshire Police.

“People mistakenly think that slavery impacts only densely populated, inner city areas. However, rural areas are vulnerable to slavery too and I can assure you, slavery is closer to you here in North Yorkshire than you think.

“Police are fully committed to finding the gangs who target and exploit vulnerable people. However, we need the eyes and the ears of the public to help us in our task.

“Safeguarding the vulnerable in our local community, and society as a whole, is everyone’s business and everyone has a role to play.”

Det Supt Harder added: “If you use hand car washes, nail bars or engage with any of the other industries or services which are susceptible to slavery, please be vigilant for any signs of forced labour.

“Do the employees look ok? Do they seem anxious or fearful? Are they wearing suitable clothing for the task they are carrying out? Do they have any visible injuries? Do they look you in the eye or seem to avoid conversation or contact? Are they brought to and picked up from work?

“If there is anything which raises your suspicion – we want to know.”

Making a report

Please make a report to North Yorkshire Police on 101, option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room. If an emergency response is required, always dial 999.

You can also contact the Modern Slavery Helpline – either by phone on 0800 0121700 or the website www.modernslaveryhelpline.org.

If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or go to the website https://crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/community-family/modern-slavery.

If you have any information about the mistreatment of workers, labour providers operating without a licence or a business, you can contact Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority on 0800 432 0804 or go to https://www.gla.gov.uk/.

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