Three arrested over modern slavery, drug and human trafficking offences

Angelena Iglesia

Three people have been arrested in connection with modern slavery and drugs offences after a routine stop by officers near Harrogate. A silver Audi A4 saloon car was pulled over by traffic cops on Burn Bridge Road at Pannal just before 3am on August 25. Following checks on the car […]

Three people have been arrested in connection with modern slavery and drugs offences after a routine stop by officers near Harrogate.

A silver Audi A4 saloon car was pulled over by traffic cops on Burn Bridge Road at Pannal just before 3am on August 25.

Following checks on the car and the occupants, a 47-year-old man from Leeds and a 32-year-old woman from Birmingham were arrested for suspected modern slavery and people trafficking offences.

They have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

A 23-year-old woman from Leeds was also arrested for possession of a Class A drug. No further action was taken against her and officers have provided safeguarding support.

Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is urged to call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room, quoting reference number 12200148140..

Spotting the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking

Modern slavery is thought to be one of the most lucrative forms of organised crime, with the International Labour Organisation estimating its global annual worth at £150 billion.

Criminals view slavery as low-risk in terms of enforcement and high-reward, in the fact that victims can be exploited repeatedly, generating thousands in illegal profits each year.

Slavery can come in a number of forms, such as:

  • Forced labour – working long hours with little money, under threat and in fear
  • Sexual exploitation – forced prostitution
  • Servitude – being completely subjected to someone more powerful
  • Forced organ donation
  • Forced criminality – cannabis cultivation, begging, shop theft and drug delivering/dealing

Some industries, such as car washes, nail bars, food packaging and processing, construction, care homes, hospitality and catering, fishing, restaurant and takeaways are more susceptible to labour exploitation.

In 2018, the North Yorkshire and City of York Modern Slavery Partnership was established, working alongside the Modern Slavery and Illegal and Exploitative Working Group.

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, Head of Safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said: “Understanding and tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is a priority to North Yorkshire Police.

“People mistakenly think that slavery impacts only densely populated, inner-city areas. However, rural areas are vulnerable to slavery too and I can assure you, slavery is closer to you here in North Yorkshire than you think.

“Police are fully committed to finding the gangs who target and exploit vulnerable people. However, we need the eyes and the ears of the public to help us in our task.

“Safeguarding the vulnerable in our local community, and society as a whole, is everyone’s business and everyone has a role to play.”

Det Supt Harder added: “If you use hand car washes, nail bars or engage with any of the other industries or services which are susceptible to slavery, please be vigilant for any signs of forced labour.

“Do the employees look ok? Do they seem anxious or fearful? Are they wearing suitable clothing for the task they are carrying out? Do they have any visible injuries? Do they look you in the eye or seem to avoid conversation or contact? Are they brought to and picked up from work?

“If there is anything which raises your suspicion – we want to know.”

Making a report

Please make a report to North Yorkshire Police on 101, option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room. If an emergency response is required, always dial 999.

You can also contact the Modern Slavery Helpline – either by phone on 0800 0121700 or their website.

If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or go to their website.

If you have any information about the mistreatment of workers, labour providers operating without a licence or a business, you can contact Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority on 0800 432 0804 or go to their website.

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