Force urges people to be ‘switched on to slavery’

West Midlands Police has repeated its plea for people across the region to be ‘switched on to slavery’ as the force promises no let-up in its pursuit of gang masters.

The appeal follows a Modern Day Slavery Act warrant executed at a food processing plant in Tyseley last month following concerns raised by members of the local community.

Around 70 workers were taken from Star Frozen Foods, in Wharf Road, during the May 23 operation and taken to a reception centre where they were spoken to by specially trained officers.

None of the staff disclosed any slavery offences or identified themselves as victims; all of the management team at the firm co-operated with the investigation and none were arrested.

Documentation has been seized and the police and partners will be making further enquiries.

West Midlands Police Superintendent Nick Walton, force lead for Modern Slavery, thanked the public for the information that led to the raid and urged people to always act on their instincts and report suspicions to police.

He said: “Modern slavery is still largely a hidden crime…we’re striving to raise the public’s awareness of the signs and urge them to report anything suspicious so we can take action.

“West Midlands Police is committed to tackling modern slavery and trafficking; it’s pleasing victims are reaching out to police and support agencies to report offences and break free from the shackles of gang masters.

“I’d urge people to look out for tell-tale signs − like large numbers of people staying in multi-occupancy houses and being ferried to and from the address on vans or minibuses early in the morning and returning late at night.

“We take information passed to us seriously and will take decisive action if we believe people are being exploited.”

In the last 12 months, West Midlands Police has carried out a series of raids at premises across the region and arrested more than 40 people on suspicion of slavery offences.

Detectives are working on several complex cases into alleged trafficking and slavery gangs − and court orders have been secured against suspects that place strict conditions on their business dealings that are designed to protect vulnerable people at risk of exploitation.

Anyone who suspects slavery offences are being committed in their community is asked to police on the 101 number or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

Source:: West Midlands Police News

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