Police visit two Rotherham car washes as part of modern slavery op

POLICE visited two car washes in Rotherham with suspected links to organised immigration crime and illegal working to identify potential victims of modern slavery.

As part of Operation Bubbles officers visited the two unidentified car washes last Thursday in a joint operation with Home Office immigration officers to safeguard potential victims.

Elsewhere in South Yorkshire, officers acted last Tuesday in response to reports a woman was being forced to work against her will at a massage parlour in Sheffield.

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A force spokesperson said police attended the address, ensured the worker was safe and provided specialist safeguarding advice and signposted her to support available.

On Friday, following intelligence gathering by police and the Home Office, officers visited another address in Sheffield suspected of being used to run a brothel, with suspected links to organised immigration crime and modern slavery.

The modern slavery team also joined up with partners at Changing Lives Netreach project to deliver activity to tackle violence against women and girls in South Yorkshire.

The Netreach team offer advice and support to sex workers and victims of online harms as part of efforts to stop violence and exploitation.

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As part of this activity, officers undertook intelligence scoping of adult service websites and social media platforms used for recruiting potential victims of sexual exploitation.

Det Chf Insp Anna Sedgwick said: “We know that modern slavery and exploitation are often hidden in plain sight within our communities and closer than people may think.

“Often workers are forced to work illegally and against their will, working long hours and often in hard conditions.

“Exploitation takes many forms and there is no typical victim of modern slavery.

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“Victims can be men, women and children of all ages and from many different countries.

“It is normally more prevalent amongst the most vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.”

Planned operations to tackle modern slavery and identify potential vulnerable victims’ are delivered “week-in week-out”, she said, adding: “Developing the intelligence picture surrounding offenders continues, and we’d always ask anyone with concerns to phone us straight away.

“If you suspect someone is being exploited, or you feel you are being exploited, we are here to help.”

More information on spotting the signs can be found on the South Yorkshire Police website and the Changing Lives Netreach project.

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