Hertfordshire Police takes part in operation targeting labour exploitation
Spot the signs of labour exploitation
Hertfordshire Police took part in Operation AIDANT, a Europe-wide project carried out between June 22, and July 10, to combat labour exploitation.
The project in the UK was coordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) working with police forces across the country.
Safer neighbourhood teams in Watford, Broxbourne, Hatfield and the Rural Investigations Team from Bedfordshire Police also supported the activities.
The Operation Tropic team, Hertfordshire’s specialist Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery (HTMS) unit, conducted activities to raise awareness of HTMS amongst local businesses, about how to spot the signs of exploitation and report suspected cases.
The Tropic team contacted over 100 employment agencies and more than 50 food processing and packaging companies in Hertfordshire, providing them with resources to educate workers and management about how to spot the signs of exploitation.
The team worked with the GLAA, charity A21, National Farmers Union (NFU), NHS Safeguarding Nurses, the Modern Slavery Hotline and Hertfordshire’s Modern Slavery Partnership.
As part of the operation the Tropic team visited transport hubs around the county where they displayed information about human trafficking and modern slavery.
Officers also visited farms and restaurants in the Watford and Broxbourne areas to raise awareness of the issue.
The Tropic team recently obtained the first Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) granted in the county, in relation to an ongoing labour exploitation investigation and utilised this as an opportunity to conduct enforcement visits.
Detective Sergeant Jill Green, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery (HTMS) unit, said: “For this project we were focused on labour exploitation in the food packaging, food processing and agricultural sectors, due to a noticeable shift of exploited persons away from car washes and nail bars etc, into these sectors due to closures forced on businesses due to COVID 19 pandemic.
“These weeks of action are an important tool for all of the agencies working together to identify and rescue both trafficked and exploited individuals. In many cases it is difficult to obtain evidence that a crime has been committed, as victims are reluctant to cooperate with police.
"These operations enable us to speak to the individuals and get them help.
"Victims can be anyone, from people living on the streets, vulnerable children and adults, to people trafficked into the country who speak little English.
"As part of the drive to combat modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation we are keen to raise awareness of this little understood issue and urge people to be vigilant and report anything they consider suspicious.”
Anyone with concerns about human trafficking or modern slavery should call police via 101 or the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency call 999.
The Beacon hotline 03000 11 55 55 is open from Monday to Friday 8am till 8pm and Saturday 9am till 5pm.
For more information and advice to access support visit: www.stopexploitationherts.org.uk.