British police arrest 20 people following large human trafficking and modern slavery bustComments
British police have arrested 20 people following a huge investigation into human trafficking and modern slavery in south London.
Of those arrested, 13 people were detained on suspicion of human trafficking and modern slavery offences, while seven were arrested for immigration offences and possession of counterfeit goods.
The multi-agency operation, which involved more than 150 people across five months, led to the raids of five nail bars in the neighbourhood on Thursday morning.
A total of 24 people were found inside the addresses and were taken to a reception centre for medical treatment and further support.
Five of the people found are said to be children.
More than 5,500 items were also confiscated, including counterfeit cigarettes and Range Rover vehicle.
In a statement, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers said he was "pleased" with the result of the operation, "which was launched to safeguard vulnerable individuals, identify perpetrators of crime and ultimately protect the public."
He added: "Human trafficking, modern slavery and sexual exploitation often occur in plain sight, and it is often the case those carrying out these offences exploit those from less fortunate backgrounds who have travelled to our county for a better life.
"They prey on the knowledge these individuals will carry out hard, labour-intensive work to provide for themselves."
Meanwhile, Southwark Council's Victoria Mills said her primary concern was that of the women, children and vulnerable people who were "caught up in this despicable trade".
She added: "Our officers are working with the police, specialist Vietnamese charities, the Salvation Army, social care and other support staff, to help those who wish to access support."
A particular spotlight has been placed on cases of human trafficking in Europe in recent months following the discovery of 39 bodies in the back of a refrigerated lorry container in Essex.
The victims, all Vietnamese nationals, are said to have travelled to Europe in hope of creating a new life.