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Officers from Cheshire Police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) have today (Wednesday 26 October) undertaken a partnership operation in Winsford as part of ongoing efforts to tackle criminal exploitation and modern slavery.
Earlier this year, intelligence was received in relation to a man suspected of trafficking workers into the UK and exploiting them.
After receiving the intelligence, officers have been working closely with the GLAA to gather further evidence, which has resulted in the operation in Winsford today.
The operation began shortly after 9am when officers executed a warrant at an address on Wharton Bridge where a 34-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of modern slavery and gangmastering offences.
The man is currently in police custody where he is assisting officers with their enquiries.
Officers also visited a further seven addresses across the town to speak to seven people who have been identified as possible victims of modern slavery.
They have all been taken to a reception centre which has been set up in Winsford to provide specialist advice and support from a number of agencies.
Detective Sergeant Martin Caldwell, lead for Hidden Harm in the Western Area, said:
“We treat all reports of illegal immigration and criminal exploitation extremely seriously and are committed to working closely with our partners to tackle the issue.
“Many of these people are extremely vulnerable and they came to the UK for the hope of a better life - instead they are being criminally exploited.
“Following today’s operation, we will work closely with our partners to ensure that all of those who are identified as victims are provided with the help and support that they require.”
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said:
“Our priority at the GLAA is to work with our partners to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and that’s exactly what we have achieved through today’s joint operation.
“Modern slavery and labour abuse sadly exists in communities not just in Cheshire but throughout the UK and we need your help to safeguard those at highest risk of being exploited for their labour.
“By spotting the signs of labour abuse and reporting your concerns, you can make a real difference to some of the most vulnerable and hidden members of society.”
Detective Sergeant Martin Caldwell added:
“Information from the public is vital and I’d urge anyone with any information in relation to Illegal immigration, or any concerns around people who may be victims of modern slavery, to get in touch.
“You can report concerns online at www.cheshire.police.uk/tell-us, or by calling 101. Information can also be reported anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.”
Advice and support for victims of exploitation is available via the GLAA free, confidential helpline on 0800 432 0804 or by emailing [email protected]
Alternatively, call the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700.