Wakefield police launch district's first modern slavery operation (12 Apr 2017)

Businesses across Wakefield have been visited by police investigating human trafficking in the first operation of its kind in the District.

Wakefield District Police are encouraging potential human trafficking victims in the District to come forwards and seek help following a day of action with partners including charity Hope for Justice and Wakefield Council at the end of March. 

Detectives and colleagues including immigration officials and the Environment Agency visited a number of businesses employing manual labour across the district last week to speak to employees 

No-one came forward during the operation to say they had been trafficked or exploited but a number of pieces of intelligence were received. 

The operation was the first part of a wave of planned activity across Wakefield District over the coming months to investigate trafficking and modern slavery. 

Local officers were also supported in the operation by specialist colleagues from the force's Human Trafficking Team which operates across the region. 

In March the team helped disrupt an organised crime group after arresting and prosecuting a London man who was found guilty of modern slavery offences in the Bradford District. 

He was jailed for four years in March and given a ten year Slavery Trafficking Prevention Order. 

Chief Inspector Kate Riley of Wakefield District Police, said officers were actively investigating possible offences in Wakefield. 

She said: "Human trafficking and modern slavery are, quite simply, crimes which should not be taking place in the 21st century. Sadly, it most likely is the case that activity of this type is ongoing in the Wakefield District. 

"This was a significant operation conducted with partners to visit businesses, interview staff and gain intelligence about what has been happening  

"During the course of the operation officers spoke with persons who could possibly have been victims of trafficking.  

"While those they spoke to did not request help or come forwards, they were given information about the services available to help them break free, if they were under any form of duress. 

"The intelligence we gained is being investigated and more operations are planned for the coming months. 

If you have been the victim of human trafficking or modern day slavery call police on 101. Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. 

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "Those who benefit from trafficking others need to know that justice will catch up with them, and victims should know that in West Yorkshire the resources and support are in place to protect them. I would also urge anyone with suspicions of human trafficking activity taking place to contact the police or the Modern Slavery Helpline with their concerns." 

If you have been the victim of human trafficking or modern day slavery call police on 101. Information can also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

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© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018