Two arrests over human trafficking

Editorial image
Editorial image

A man and a woman have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, the PSNI has said.

A polcie spokesperson said: “Officers from the PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) have today arrested two people on suspicion of human trafficking following an investigation into suspected labour exploitation.

“One man, aged 42 and a 37 year old woman were arrested in the Antrim Road area of North Belfast today (Wednesday, September 26) and have been taken to Musgrave Street where they are currently being questioned by police.”

Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell from the MSHTU said: “Today’s arrests are part of our contribution to the National Crime Agency’s latest phase of Operation Aidant, a 2-week co-ordinated series of operational intensifications on modern slavery and human trafficking.

“Last week my officers arrested four people, three men aged 47,49 and 53 years old and a 50 year old woman, in Belfast on suspicion of immigration offences. They have all now been deported.”

He continued: “We are continually targeting the people involved in all types of human trafficking and are pleased to support the NCA in this two-week period of intensification focussing on adults who have been trafficked to the UK, or exploited in the UK, for the purposes of sexual exploitation.”

“It can be hard to believe that this type of crime exists today as it remains quite hidden, but it does and it could be happening in any street and in any town in Northern Ireland.

“Victims are often afraid to speak out or unable to report their ordeal to police for a number of reasons including language barriers or simply because they are held captive. It’s for this reason we all need to work together to help victims and stop this unacceptable crime.”

Detective Superintendent Campbell continued: “It’s important for people to be aware of goings-on in their communities and keep a look out for a number of tell-tale signs. These include people who can’t produce their passport or personal documents, who appear to be under the control of others or who have unexplained injuries, live in over-crowded accommodation or those who appear not to have any cash as they are not allowed to keep the money they earn.

“The PSNI’s MSHTU was established in 2015 to provide a dedicated proactive approach to tackling this complex crime and we also provide an on call facility, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support frontline police and other agencies and statutory organisations we work with in Northern Ireland to detect, disrupt and frustrate organised crime gangs involved in human exploitation. Modern slavery is unacceptable as it violates human rights and denies victims their rights to life, freedom and safety.”

Anyone with suspicions can call the police service on 101 or the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.