DETECTIVES have arrested six people on suspicion of human trafficking after raiding suspected brothels in West Swindon.

Five people were identified as potential victims of modern slavery following the raids. They have been referred to other agencies and given accommodation and further support.

The raids were the culmination of an 11 month investigation by Swindon detectives. It identified women working in the off-street sex trade who police suspected were being exploited by an organised crime gang.

Det Supt Jeremy Carter said: “The main reason for this operation was to identify vulnerable people being exploited in our communities by organised criminals and put a stop to it.

“Whilst Wiltshire remains one of the safest places to live and work in the country, we want to continue to raise awareness that slavery can, and does, happen in our communities and the public play a vital role in helping us stop it.

“Today has been a real team effort. We have worked closely with our partners to not only identify the threats posed to vulnerable people in our communities but also to provide safeguarding for them and bring offenders to justice."

Three men, aged 23, 41 and 50, and three women, aged 22, 26 and 38, were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, conspiracy to money launder and conspiracy to manage or assist in the management of a brothel used for prostitution.

Police have asked for the public’s help in identifying victims of modern slavery.

Det Insp Mark Wilkinson said: “The public can help make it harder for people that want to exploit others by being vigilant. For example, if they see a stream of different men visiting an address at all hours of the day or night it may be an indicator that the address is being used as a brothel. They might see workers appear to be distressed, anxious, disorientated, or withdrawn. They could be potential victims of human trafficking or other exploitation.

“Intelligence from members of the public is critical – I would urge the public to be aware of the potential signs of exploitation and use that information to report their concerns either directly to us via 101 or by contacting Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Information can also be reported anonymously via the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700.