Car washes, nail bars and brothels are targeted

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Eighteen people have been taken to a reception centre and 27 people have been arrested as part of a week-long regional crackdown on modern slavery and human trafficking.

Car washes, nail bars, brothels and factories were among the 207 addresses across Greater Manchester which were visited last week by police and partner agencies.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) arrested 14 people and immigration officers arrested 13 people for various crimes including modern slavery, kidnap, illegal workers and suspicion of illegal entry.

Police also recovered a Range Rover and made 34 referrals to other agencies such as HMRC, DWP and Housing Standards.

GMP worked alongside colleagues from Cheshire, Merseyside, North Wales, Lancashire and Cumbria as part of the largest modern slavery week of action the region has seen.

Suspected victims were taken to a reception centre run by the British Red Cross. Specially trained staff worked to protect the victim from further harm and provide them with much-needed care, support and rehabilitation.

Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, Head of Crime said: “The week of action reinforces our commitment to helping vulnerable people, taking them to a place of safety and giving them the support they need. This is and will continue to be our main priority.

“Rest assured that our work to tackle modern slavery doesn’t stop here. Traffickers are not welcome on our streets and Greater Manchester Police will continue to work all year round to bring offenders to justice.”

John Harrison, from the Greater Manchester Immigration Enforcement team, said: “We are always alive to the possibility that immigration offending can be linked to more exploitative behaviour such as trafficking. We work closely with the police, and other partners, to ensure we maximise opportunities to identify potential modern slavery offences.

“This was a successful operation where we made arrests for a number of offences relating to illegal working, and we will continue our work to identify people abusing the UK’s immigration laws.”

Since the beginning of last year, Greater Manchester Police have recorded 163 crimes of modern slavery.

During the same period, 151 victims have been referred to the national referral mechanism.

Modern slavery takes many forms but some of the most common are sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude. Victims – both foreign national and British citizens – are forced to work in poor conditions and against their will in many different sectors including brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars, car washes, agriculture, construction, and even within people’s homes.

The signs of modern slavery are many, but the most obvious are:

A lack of self-esteem

Acting as if instructed by another

Scared, anxious, withdrawn

Distrustful

Living in overcrowded accommodation, sometimes in the same place that they work

Lacking suitable clothing for their job

Fearful and poorly integrated into the local community

Injured or in need of medical care

If you think slavery is happening or are in a situation yourself, call the police on 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively, call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or visit www.modernslavery.co.uk and use the online form.