Police officers have visited a number of Northampton businesses as they tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
Yesterday (September 5) officers visited two car washes and a number of nail bars around the town as part of their work to safeguard people who may be victims of modern slavery or human trafficking.
Two women, one Chinese and one Albanian, were located at separate nail bars in the town. Both had entered the country illegally and were working illegally. Officers are working with the Immigration Service and HM Revenue and Customs as a result of the visit.
Detective Chief Inspector Julie Mead from Northamptonshire Police, said: “People often think of slavery as a thing of the past but sadly it is very much still an issue in the UK and beyond.
“Organised crime groups traffic people into the UK in order to work in places such as car washes, nail bars and even brothels.
“In many cases the victim is promised a better life in this country and told lies about what will happen to them when they arrive which can include being moved into shared accommodation and being forced to work for someone in order to pay back debts generated from their travel to the UK.
“The victim will then incur further debt while living here and it becomes almost impossible for them to get help. In a lot of situations they don’t believe they are victims of a crime or are scared to contact the police which is why our days of action are so important.
“Our visits mean we are able to speak to people working in car washes and nail bars, away from their employers and colleagues and find out who they are and if they are a victim of human trafficking and modern day slavery.”
Anyone who is found to be a slavery victim is offered support and can assist with criminal prosecutions.
DCI Mead added: “People are being trafficked to the UK and around the country by organised criminal gangs whose sole purpose is to make money, which is why this day of action has taken place as part of Operation Viper, our drive to tackle serious and organised crime.
“Those involved in this type of crime are operating a business, often working on a large scale and do not have the best interests of their victims at heart. As such the conditions their slaves are living and working in are often well below the standard you or I would expect and the victims are making a very small amount of money, if any at all.”
Tackling human trafficking and modern day slavery is not just an issue for police, but the public too.
DCI Mead said: “We work closely with partners in organisations including local councils and the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority in order to tackle this issue but it’s also something the public can help us with.
“When you’re going to get your nails done or your car washed stop and ask yourself if you think it’s too cheap, do the people work there look like they have sufficient training or equipment, are they friendly and talkative, or do they seem withdrawn?
“If you have concerns about someone you think may be a victim of trafficking you can call police on 101, report your concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline online or call them on 08000 121 700.”