North Yorkshire Police took part in a multi-agency operation last week to identify and protect victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
Along with colleagues from the Health and Safety Executive, Trading Standards and Immigration Services, officers visited a number of sites in York, including car washes and restaurants, to check that workers were able to work freely and legally and that the correct standards for working and in some cases living conditions, were being upheld.
Four car wash locations were visited on Thursday 7 September 2017. One site was immediately closed by the Health and Safety Executive, due to concerns regarding the working environment and advice was given to another two of the four sites.
Employees were spoken to, to check they were receiving the minimum wage, right-to-work paperwork was correctly held and that they were free to leave the employment if they chose to. No arrests were made.
Restaurants and supermarkets were visited the following day. Seven arrests were made at the Regency Chinese Restaurant on Barbican Road and the Regency Chinese Restaurant and Supermarket on George Hudson Street. Four men and three women, all of Chinese nationality, were arrested on suspicion of various immigration offences. All seven have been passed into the custody of Immigration Services.
Inspector John-Paul Freer, North Yorkshire Police lead in force for Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking said:
“This multi-agency operation sends out a clear message that North Yorkshire Police and our partners are proactively seeking out those who abuse workers, workers’ rights and the UK immigration laws, for their own profit.
“Proactive policing operations such as these also allow us to protect and ensure the correct support and assistance is available for slavery and trafficking victims, to enable them to break free and leave the cycle of abuse and exploitation that they experience on a daily basis .
“I would appeal to the public, these activities show that vulnerable people are being exploited around you. You are our eyes and ears and if you come across anything which alerts your suspicion, or are aware of an individual who seems controlled, scared or vulnerable or being forced to work against their will – please contact police on 101. You can also report to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
“More information is available on the Modern Slavery helpline website – www.modernslaveryhelpline.orgLast modified: September 14, 2017