Modern slavery targeted

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Police officers and partners visited a number of Burnley businesses in a week targeting the scourge of modern slavery.

Nine nail bars and 12 car washes across East Lancashire were visited throughout the week by detectives, Neighbourhood Police Teams, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Immigration Enforcement.

Continued agency collaboration will enable us to combat the threat of trafficking and slavery across Lancashire.

Det. Sgt Tony Atkins

A total of 47 foreign nationals were spoken with to ensure that they hadn’t been trafficked or forced to work against their will.

No welfare issues were raised but one juvenile was removed from a car wash and safeguarded, while a number of people were arrested by Immigration Enforcement.

No instances of slavery or trafficking were uncovered, but key premises will continue to be monitored and hotel managers were offered information on how to report suspicions or incidents to police.

In addition to targeted checks across the county, the force also hosted its first modern slavery conference at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel.

More than 130 frontline workers from the NHS, local authorities, children’s services, probation and visitors from Romanian charities and police attended the conference.

Det. Sgt Tony Atkins, one of the force’s leads working to tackle modern slavery, said: “All week we had officers out and about conducting checks and visits and helping to raise awareness of the issue, asking people to look closer and to report their concerns to us.

“It has been a really successful week and has enabled us to gather a large amount of intelligence to help us to build up a picture of activity across the county.

“Despite the fact that no slavery or trafficking offences were uncovered, our activity shows our commitment to rooting out this type of crime and we will continue to target those who chose to exploit others.

“Working closely with many statutory and voluntary agencies, like we have done this week, means that we can together help those who are being exploited and mistreated. Continued agency collaboration will enable us to combat the threat of trafficking and slavery across Lancashire.”

If you think that someone is in immediate danger call 999, if you suspect slavery is happening and there is no immediate threat to life then call 101.

Lancashire Victims Services can also offer help and support. Contact them on 0300 323 0085.