26 modern slavery cases reported to one police force in three months

Three women have been arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences in Epsom, Surrey, after a warrant was executed this week.

In the past three months, Surrey Police have received 26 reports in relation to potential modern slavery cases.

Anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice has reiterated the police force’s call to action, urging members of the public to learn how to spot the signs of modern slavery and to report crime or suspicious activity.

Modern slavery is a hidden crime and a growing problem in the UK but Hope for Justice is working globally to bring an end to it. Over the past year, the charity has rescued more victims of slavery, reached more vulnerable children and reunited more families than ever before. But there are so many others who need help.

East Surrey Sergeant James Dawborn said: ‘’We all have a duty to do everything we can to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in our local communities and ensure that vulnerable victims are safeguarded.’’

More than 50 officers and staff from Surrey Police, as well as partners from other agencies, took part in four warrants at addresses across Epsom on Monday. Two women, aged 23 and 31, of no fixed address, were arrested on suspicion of running a brothel under Section 33 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and released under investigation. A 44-year-old woman of no fixed address was also arrested on suspicion of immigration offences. She has been released and will be referred to immigration services. Sgt Dawborn said: “The local team in Epsom identified a number of addresses that we believed to be operating as brothels, where women were being trafficked into and around the country.”

The recent warrants were carried out in conjunction with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).

Hope for Justice spokesman Adam Hewitt said: “Each case of trafficking and modern slavery looks different, although there are some common indicators of trafficking. For example, someone may be fearful of telling others about their situation, or be unpaid or paid very little, or appear to be in debt to someone. We are working globally to prevent slavery in all of its forms by preventing exploitation, rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society.”

Learn how to spot the signs at https://hopeforjustice.org/spot-the-signs/.

If you suspect modern slavery and someone is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

Otherwise, call Hope for Justice on 0300 008 8000 or email help@hopeforjustice.org