A dedicated police team has been targeting suspected illegal sex work in Swindon.
This morning (24/11), our Exploitation and Missing Team (EMT), supported by our Community Policing Teams, Fortitude Team and partners from Swindon Borough Council, the Medaille Trust (a charity which works to combat modern slavery) and the Immigration Department, carried out eight warrants at addresses in the town. One of the properties is suspected to be a brothel.
Three arrests have been made in relation to the operation - all three were from Swindon and are currently in custody:
A 22-year-old woman and 31-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of modern slavery and human trafficking offences, as well as managing a brothel and money laundering.
And, a 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and money laundering.
Three women from one address were taken to safety by specially trained officers.
Modern slavery affects us all
Det Insp Eirin Martin, head of the EMT, said: "The focus of this operation was to target the exploiters as well as to rescue and safeguard anyone who was found to be a victim of exploitation, trafficking or modern slavery.
"The act of modern slavery and human trafficking affects us all and is taking place everywhere - even here in rural Wiltshire. In fact the reality of modern slavery is that it is always present, often where you least expect it to be.
"The operation was also supported by our partners as we continue to work together to combat this crime.
"I would ask members of the public to be mindful of these crimes and if you suspect human trafficking or modern slavery is taking place at a local business or in your area, please report it to us.
"Perhaps, you suspect someone you know as being exploited or, having considered this, you may believe you are a victim - if so, please contact us."
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Russell Holland said: "The raid this morning was a great example of the professionalism and dedication of Wiltshire Police and our partners, to take serious action to protect those who are most vulnerable.
Safety of the women
"The priority of the raid I attended was to ensure the safety and well being of young women who very sadly have been sexually exploited. I hope that they will now take the opportunity to get the help they need to have a better life. Prostitution will very often be associated with serious organised crime such as the evil practice of human trafficking, money laundering and other serious criminal offences. Investigations will be ongoing to bring these criminals to justice.
"The Police and Crime Commissioner and Wiltshire Police are doing everything possible to create a hostile environment for criminals and raids like this are a key part of that. But the police cannot do this work alone. Every single member of the community can play an important part by paying attention to what is happening around them."
Steve Hay from Medaille Trust said: “We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with Wiltshire Police on this operation. We’ve developed a great ongoing partnership with the team and we are hopeful that by working together, we can prevent more people from experiencing modern slavery and exploitation.”
If you suspect modern slavery or human trafficking taking place in your area, please report any suspicious incidents via 101 or our website. You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.