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Car washes raided in trafficking sting
9:50am Saturday 19th October 2013 in News
TWO illegal immigrants from Albania were arrested in Swindon yesterday as part of a national campaign to tackle human trafficking.
Officers from Wiltshire Police visited various car washes across the county in support of the campaign, with enquiries carried out at several locations in Swindon and elsewhere in the county.
A total of 50 people were spoken to as part of Operation Eagle that, through the development of intelligence, disruption of organised crime and improvement of victim care arrangements, seeks to tackle the issue of human trafficking in the UK.
Wiltshire Police was supported by other partners from the UK Border Agency, HMRC (Revenue and Customs) and UK Human Trafficking Centre. Interpreters were also present in order to speak with some of the individuals at the sites.
A total of four arrests were made in Wiltshire, including the two in Swindon and two in Salisbury.
A considerable number of individuals from Eastern European countries were found to be working in contravention of their immigration status in the UK and were given advice around human trafficking and exploitation.
Detective Inspector Matt Davey, who led the operation in Wiltshire, said: “This operation was tremendously successful in engaging with hard-to-reach communities, identifying potential victims of exploitation and enriching our local understanding of the issues.
“Often, this sort of crime is hidden from public view and victims who might be vulnerable to modern day slavery or human trafficking feel unable to approach the police due to being fearful and possibly intimidated by others.
“We are working together with UKBA, HMRC and UKHTC to ensure that the considerable amount of intelligence that was gathered during the course of the day is shared effectively so that those identified as being victims of exploitation can be offered the appropriate advice and support and our other longer term objectives can be achieved.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: “I am fully supportive of this operation and on-going police intelligence led work in this area.
“We do live in one of the safest places in the country, with statistics released yesterday showing the current crime rate within Wiltshire is the seventh lowest in England. However that shouldn’t lead to us thinking that we are immune from very serious offences including human trafficking happening here.
“On Monday I will be attending an awareness film event about human trafficking being run by Unchosen Swindon. Through my Innovation Fund I am pleased to support this project as it is helping to better inform people about this subject, which isn’t often talked about.”