Six arrests after discovery of potential modern slavery victims at farm Image: iStock

Police officers flagged down on a rural road

Ten suspected victims of modern slavery have been safeguarded after they were discovered living in a farm building in Bedfordshire. Police officers were flagged down by two men on a rural road on the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire border at around 9.30pm on Friday (26 June 2020).

Police visited the address the men had come from and established that 13 men and a pregnant woman were staying at the property. All those at the property had travelled to the UK from Romania.

All have been offered support under the national referral mechanism for victims of modern slavery.

Two men in their 40s and two men in their 20s were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and have been released on bail, pending further enquiries.

Subsequent enquiries were then made by police alongside the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) at an address in Lincolnshire, where a number of further potential victims were identified.

A woman in her 40s and a man in his 30s were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and remain in police custody.

Bedfordshire Police Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Glynn said:

“An excellent response and teamwork by our officers and partners has resulted in ten suspected victims of modern slavery being safeguarded.

“Sadly, we know that modern slavery and exploitation is going on all around us. Bedfordshire’s transport links and demographics make us particularly susceptible to it– almost 400 potential victims were identified in the county last year, the fifth highest of all UK police force areas.

“We are doing all we can to protect victims and dismantle the organised crime groups behind this exploitation, whether they exploit people through the sex industry, county lines drug dealing or in sectors such as agriculture or construction.

“This is a stark reminder that the abhorrence of slavery still exists and I would urge people to get in touch with us if they have any suspicions.”

GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Jennifer Baines said:

“Protecting vulnerable workers is our top priority and taking decisive action with partners is key in ensuring that potential victims of exploitation are safeguarded and given the support that they need.

“We would strongly encourage the public to be aware of the signs of exploitation, especially in these unprecedented times, and more importantly report their concerns to us and our partners.”

More information about the modern slavery and exploitation picture in Bedfordshire, as well as the signs to spot, are outlined on the force’s website.

Anyone with information or concerns about modern slavery can contact Bedfordshire Police via bedfordshire.police.uk/report or call 101. Call 999 if there are immediate concerns.

You can contact the GLAA via gla.gov.uk or call 0800 432 0804.

Alternatively you can also report things anonymously and in confidence to the Modern Slavery Helpline via 08000 121 700.