40 vehicles stopped on M25 near Hemel Hempstead in human trafficking and modern slavery operation

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More than 40 vehicles were stopped on Thursday 6 February in an operation targeting human trafficking and modern slavery.

The operation, led by Hertfordshire Constabulary, targeted vehicles travelling on the M25. The vehicles were stopped throughout the day and a range of checks were performed on the occupants for potential involvement in trafficking, slavery or exploitation.

Immigration and vehicle safety checks were also performed as part of the operation at South Mimms Services on the M25 motorway.

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The operation was carried out in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service, Immigration Enforcement Rapid Response Team, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), UK Border Agency, Modern Slavery Police Transformation Unit and HM Customs Mobile Enforcement Team. More than 100 police and other law enforcement officers from partner agencies attended.

Herts police search lorry during Modern Slavery operation near HemelHerts police search lorry during Modern Slavery operation near Hemel
Herts police search lorry during Modern Slavery operation near Hemel

Police officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) also supported the operation. Hertfordshire Constabulary’s involvement was led by its specialist modern slavery and human trafficking unit, Operation Tropic.

Also in attendance were the Home Office Immigration Service, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the British Red Cross and Hertfordshire Trading Standards.

During the eight hour operation more than 45 people were spoken to. No arrests were made however warnings and fines were issued by partner agencies for vehicle defects and driver tachograph violations.

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Chief Inspector for Hertsmere, Clare Smith, said: “The aim of this operation is to detect those who are trafficking and exploiting people. Trafficked people and other victims of exploitation are often moved around by road, so by disrupting this activity we can detect those who are being exploited and help them, as well as catch the criminals or gangs that choose to exploit people.

Vehicles checked during Herts police operation yesterdayVehicles checked during Herts police operation yesterday
Vehicles checked during Herts police operation yesterday

“Whilst we didn’t find any victims of trafficking during the operation, it was a great opportunity to speak to drivers and hauliers and raise awareness of these issues. Members of the public using the services were also engaged on the subject of trafficking and modern slavery. There was a display in the main entrance giving information on the signs of modern slavery and the consequences for those who are exploited. We need the public to be aware of how to spot the signs that someone might be being exploited or controlled by others for commercial gain.”

David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, said: “Tackling modern slavery requires a co-ordinated and united approach and this operation shows how seriously this crime is being taken in Hertfordshire. I’m particularly pleased to see the partnership working playing such an important role in this operation.”

The public can help by looking out for people who appear to be controlled by others. Information is available online at www.herts.police.uk/modernslavery.