Working in partnership with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Europol, officers from Thames Valley Police safeguarded a number of potential victims of modern slavery and child trafficking following a week of activity under Project Aidant, an NCA-led law-enforcement response.
The activity took place during the week of 28 June as part of a Europe-wide operation, involving 19 police forces from across the UK, including Thames Valley Police, as well as other partners including Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions.
During the week of action, 20 potential victims were identified and safeguarded in the Thames Valley, while a number of offences involving drug supply, immigration and trafficking offences were also established.
Officers also delivered a presentation to around 150 students at a college in Bracknell, visited a number of hotels, car washes and nailbars, offering support and advice to employers and employees, and stopped and searched a number of vehicles.
The Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit supported the operation, using its analytical capabilities to look across a range of information held on different police systems, building risk-profiles for individuals. It helped identify over 80 people subject to a combination of risk factors, such as previous connections to organised crime, having been involved in drugs or violence or being subject to a multi-agency management plan. Every person received a review of their situation and where necessary visits were undertaken to assess whether further support or safeguarding actions were required.
Chief Superintendent Jim Weems, Head of Force Intelligence and Specialist Operations, said: “Our week of action, working in partnership, created significant intelligence and identified a number of vulnerable individuals, for whom safeguarding has been put in place.
“Our actions have helped to ensure a number of individuals are no longer at risk of modern slavery and human trafficking, while the intelligence gather identified a number of possible offences for which investigations are continuing.
“Modern slavery and human trafficking is absolutely abhorrent, and Thames Valley Police remain committed to ensuring that any such offences are investigated thoroughly and offenders brought to justice.
“We remain committed to ensuring the safety of vulnerable people, and would always urge the public to contact us if they have any information that could help us to safeguard anybody at risk of such offences.
“You can report to us online or by calling 101, or for 100% anonymity, by calling the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”