Police and crime commissioner says modern day slavery will not be tolerated
- Credit: Archant
Exploitation by rogue landlords and unlicensed gangmasters will not be tolerated in Cambridgeshire was the warning sent out to criminal gangs in the county.
Speaking ahead of Anti-Slavery Day, Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Sir Graham Bright highlighted the problem of human trafficking and exploitation in modern day Britain.
Mr Bright spoke out in a week when agencies teamed up to carry out Operation Endeavour, a multi agency taskforce that made arrests and property searches in homes across the Fens in the middle of the night, in order to send out a stark warning to rogues.
Sir Graham said that the initiative in Fenland involved setting up a special taskforce to tackle the exploitation of
migrants in the area.
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The project ended with nine arrests at properties in the area, involving around 300 police and partner agency officers and staff.
To date, more than 80 victims have been identified in Cambridgeshire alone, though there is evidence to suggest that this is a country-wide issue.
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Sir Graham said: “Slavery is a word we usually consign to the annals of history, it’s not something you think can happen in modern day Britain.
“But every day people are discovered living in appalling conditions – substandard, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation,
subjected to threats of violence, trafficking and illegal eviction.
“The recent action by the police and other agencies shows that we are tackling this problem head on,” he said.
The population has become increasingly diverse and Cambridgeshire, particularly the Fens, is an attractive option for migrant workers wanting to find jobs, Mr Bright said.
He added: “There are many reliable, trustworthy and law abiding landlords and licensed gangmasters out there, but those who
are seeking to exploit any individual in such demeaning ways have no place in Cambridgeshire.”
Operation Endeavour was launched in early June and was an outcome of Operation Pheasant, a joint-agency campaign to tackle homes of multiple occupancy and poor living standards.
The project started in November last year and is on-going.
Pheasant uncovered a significant labour exploitation issue with links to other types of crime, including theft, organised crime and anti-social behaviour, including street drinking and rough sleeping.