Wiltshire Police supported targeted activity on Tuesday 15 May in relation to modern slavery. The Force, alongside various partner agencies, visited a number of addresses in Salisbury to check on the welfare of employees who are potential victims of labour exploitation.
26 people were identified as potential victims of modern slavery as part of the operation. Overall, seven addresses were visited, one of which included a business. All those identified have been interviewed and their welfare assessed, with everyone declared safe and well.
No arrests were made, but work continues with our Romanian community to establish and strengthen strong community links.
Detective Superintendent Jeremy Carter said: "We are fully committed to tackling modern slavery and protecting the most vulnerable people in society. Following comprehensive intelligence, there was an indication that some addresses were linked to labour exploitation.
"It can be forgiven to think that because Wiltshire is one of the safest places to live and work in the country that these types of issues don't happen. Sadly, this is not the case and it is important that we educate our communities to spot the signs so they can help us stop modern slavery.
"This ever-changing crime requires us to work proactively by building up an intelligence picture of the situation and deploying our resources accordingly. This specific operation was led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and supported by the police, the National Crime Agency (NCA), Local Housing and the Illegal Money Lending Team.
"Wiltshire Police also chair the Swindon and Wiltshire Anti-Slavery Partnership which helps to bring everyone together to put a stop to slavery in our communities and this will continue to be a top priority so the issue of modern slavery is everyone's responsibility.
"Whilst carrying out this operation, 26 potential victims of exploitation have been identified. However, there was no need to take any further action to secure their wellbeing.
"I would urge the public to be aware of the potential signs of exploitation and use that information to not only report their concerns, but also to think of the human cost of the services they use so that informed decisions can be made".
GLAA Director of Operations Ian Waterfield said: "This latest enforcement action by ourselves and Wiltshire Police saw us act on intelligence about possible exploitation of Romanian workers in the Salisbury area.
"The operation demonstrates our commitment to target those people who believe they can prey on the desperation of vulnerable workers, many of whom may not be able to speak English, for their own ends.
"We will not stop in our efforts to stamp out labour abuse but we need your help. If you suspect something, please don't hesitate to pick up the phone and speak to our intelligence team on 0115 9597052. One call to us can change people's lives forever and bring offenders to justice."
Victims of modern slavery and exploitation aren't always immediately obvious to spot, but there are some signs to look out for:
· Working long hours
· Substance addiction
· Chaperoned everywhere
· Lack of possessions
· Language barriers
· Passport held by someone else
· Lack of personal protective equipment
· Lack of access to medical care, or strange injuries
· Money deducted from salary
· No keys. Can't come and go as they please
· Psychological trauma
· Sporadic school attendance
· Money withheld
· Ritual abuse/witchcraft
Information from the public is vital in the fight against modern slavery. To report your concerns call us on 101. If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.
You can also report anonymously via The National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.