The Local Situation

Before the Modern Slavery Act 2015 convictions for trafficking and modern day slavery were much more difficult and the perpetrators sometimes escaped conviction or were convicted for lesser charges.  The earlier reports below reflect this when you look at what actually happened. 

 29 October 2016, Week of action, Anti-Slavery Week

 Police, Home Office immigration staff and officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs carried out searches at car washes, takeaways and nail bars in Blackburn, Burnley, Colne and Nelson as part of a week-long crackdown. Four men have been detained on immigration offences after Police, Home Office immigration staff and officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs carried out searches at car washes, takeaways and nail bars in Blackburn, Burnley, Colne and Nelson. The operation also saw a teenage boy found working in a car wash taken to a place of safety.

Detective Sergeant Tony Atkins added: “It has been a really successful week and has enabled us to gather a large amount of intelligence to help us to build up a picture of activity across the county. Despite the fact that no slavery or trafficking offences were uncovered, our activity shows our commitment to rooting out this type of crime and we will continue to target those who choose to exploit others.”

15 October 2016 (Sexual Exploitation)

  • St James Road, Blackburn
  • Wensley Road, Blackburn
  • Wynotham Street, Burnley

Sion reported that there have been a lot more cases of Romanian sex workers and intelligence indicates that they are moving out of the area. Police monitoring of websites show a significant reduction of the number of East European girls advertised.  Most importantly Sion detailed recent successes arresting perpetrators and rescuing victims in Blackburn and Burnley.  There has been a lot of press coverage and an article in the Lancashire Telegraph on 21 July is a pretty good summary of what Sion was saying:

Everything possible is being done to tackle sexual exploitation, insists East Lancashire’s top cop

  EAST Lancashire’s top police officer has said everything possible is being done to tackle human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the area. Chief Superintendent Matt Horn, the divisional commander, made the comments in the wake of last week’s human trafficking raids which saw two men and a woman arrested.

The raid was the third such operation in five months in Blackburn as police look to crackdown on women being trafficked to East Lancashire from Romania to be forced to work as prostitutes.

Chf Supt Horn said his officers are coming across the problem more often and the arrests show they are taking the issue seriously. He said: “There is a problem and there are issues of human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. “That’s something that we have come across more and more, it’s something that we’re educating our officers to look out for and recognise the signs of and we won’t shy away from dealing with it. “If we come across the signs of that and the vulnerabilities I would expect my officers to deal with that.

“We have appointed a lead officer, DCI Sion Hall. “There are links to organised crime, possibly internationally, in the human trafficking cases. “It’s an increasing issue that we’re alive to and we’re putting some resources to it to recognise it.  “When we find it, and we are looking for it, we will make sure that we deal with it.”

In the latest phase of Operation Proteus, police executed warrants at a house in Wensley Road, where they found three women, aged 20, 24 and 34, thought to be Romanian. At a property in St James Road,  they found two women of Eastern European descent aged 25 and 32. All five women were taken to a place of safety and were being supported by specially trained officers.

 As a result of last Wednesday’s operation two men, aged 21 and 28, were arrested at the house in St James’s Road on suspicion of human trafficking.  A 29-year-old woman was arrested at the property in Wensley Road over the same allegation.  All three have been released on bail until October 4. 

The regional Week of Action starting on Monday with Anti-Slavery Week is linked with Manchester, Merseyside and Cumbria.  Police forces are coming together to fight human trafficking – vital because the criminals involved work across the country and across Europe.  Working across boundaries and across countries is a key part of Sion’s operation  and he hopes that his initiative will lead to similar dedicated teams in all three Lancashire Constabulary divisions. It will be his legacy when he retires and so far the evidence for success is unequivocal.

On October 12 the Guardian reported on Kevin Highland’s (Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner) first annual report.  Police are not recording most UK slavery cases as crimes, says the report

Kevin Hyland’s report however also notes that: “Evidence I have collected does demonstrate that some UK police forces are taking a proactive approach to combating modern slavery through the development of bespoke units, quality assurance mechanisms and training.”

One of those police forces is of course East Lancashire.

Sion has recently been to Romania to strengthen the relationship between his team and the Romanian Police Force.   A  Romanian Delegation is over here for a week and will be on the panel at the Lancashire Modern Slavery Conference on Monday, compèred by Sion,  which aims to raise awareness of modern day slavery and human trafficking in Lancashire. The event is funded by the Lancashire Serious and Organised Crime Project, Lancashire Constabulary and the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner and is targeted at frontline workers across Lancashire to help them recognise the signs and better understand the role they can play in tackling this issue. The conference will take place as part of a national week of action.

Railway Road, Blackburn, 11July 2016 (Servitude and Enforced Labour)

 A man was  arrested on suspicion of human slavery after a Blackburn newsagents was raided by police.  Officers arrested the 55-year-old man, who is from Blackburn, at Railway News in Railway Road on suspicion of slavery, servitude, forced labour and assault.  The investigation centres on a 55-year-old man, who is also from Blackburn. Police said they were working with partner agencies to ensure his safeguarding.

Accrington Road, Blackburn, 11 May 2016 (Sexual Exploitation)

 Three men aged 30, 31 and 33 were arrested after a raid in Accrington Road at around 7.45 pm and are held in custody on suspicion of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Two women in their twenties were found at the address and are believed to have been brought to the UK from Romania.

 Preston reported 18 March 2016 (Sexual Exploitation)

Three men sentenced for trafficking and rape at Preston Crown Court

Three men involved in trafficking two young Romanian women into Lancashire and forced them into Preston’s sex trade have been given extended prison sentences to reflect their danger to society. The two young girls believed they were starting a new life in the UK, but were instead brutally raped and subjected to violence.

Two men were found guilty of intentionally facilitating entry to the UK of a person with a view to their sexual exploitation and two counts of rape and both were jailed for 20 years.  The other man  was found guilty of managing a brothel and two counts of rape and was jailed for 13 years.

 Azlea Road, Blackburn, 24 February 2016 (Sexual Exploitation)

 A 26-year-old man and 21-year-old woman, believed to be eastern European were arrested. Two women in their 20s were found at the house and have  been taken to a place of safety.

Reported 23 October 2015

Sandon Street and Higher Witton Road Blackburn (Sexual Exploitation)

TWO suspected brothels in Blackburn were visited as part of a police crackdown into human trafficking and modern day slavery. Four Romanian women in their early to mid-20s were found at the properties in Sandon Street and Higher Witton Road and told police they were working as prostitutes of their own volition.

Reported 12 September 2015

Manchester Road, Nelson (Enforced Criminality)

THE discovery of three people living in a lean-to shed in Nelson has led to the )granting of one of the country’s first ever modern slavery orders.  The Polish nationals were found in the building at the rear of Mohammed Riaz’s home in Manchester Road, Nelson, Blackburn Magistrates Court was told.  It is alleged that in return for food and somewhere to sleep they were driven around waste disposal sites at night and made to steal property from the skips.

Reported 17 February 2015

Wellfiled Road and Fecitt Brow, Blackburn (Sexual Exploitation)

 THE head of a family-run sex trafficking operation has been jailed for five years and 10 months. Hungarian national Alex Breier, 41, forced three young women into a life of prostitution, slavery and servitude after he arranged for them to be transported from Europe to Manchester. The victims were then taken to numerous properties owned by different members of the family including addresses in Blackburn and Bolton.

 Ford Sreet, Burnley and St James Street, Blackbun, 24 June 2015 (Sexual Exploitation)

A man has been charged with human trafficking after a 26 year old Romanian woman was found by police at an address in Burnley and taken to a place of safety.  She was discovered in a raid at the property. The arrest came after two warrants were executed on Friday under the Human Trafficking Act.  An address on St James Street in Blackburn was searched, along with the property on Ford Street in Burnley.

 Reported 30 April 2015 (Labour Exploitation)

Rishton Car Wash

POLICE on a modern day slavery raid discovered four migrants at a Rishton car wash working ten-hour days for £30.  Details of three Romanians being allegedly paid less than half the minimum wage and an Iranian refugee illegally being employed are being investigated by tax and immigration officials following the swoop.

Albert Street Burnley, 16 February 2015 (Enforced Labour)

Officers raided an address on Albert Street, Burnley on Monday after a man complained he was “kept against his will and made to do work”. Lancashire Police said the man is in a safe place and is being supported by a number of charities and agencies.  A 29-year-old man from Nelson was held on suspicion of knowingly holding another person in slavery or servitude.

 Reported 12 October 2013, Preston Chicken Factory (Enforced Labour)

In signed testimonies given to the police, the men told how they were forced by the gang to surrender their passports and to work long hours at the factory. Their wages were taken from them and they were made to sleep five to a room in a house where they were ordered to perform menial tasks on their days off. They said they knew of others who had been trafficked into the country and forced to work in other factories.

Reported 10 October 2013, Burnley (Enforced Marriage)

Three men and one woman were arrested after a 20 year old woman was brought to the UK and later sold to a man who forced her into a sham marriage and repeatedly raped her. She was kidnapped from her rural home in Slovakia and put on a coach where she believed she was heading for the Czech Republic to find work. Instead, she was taken to London and then on to Bradford where she was kept prisoner for weeks by Imrich Bodor, 45, before he passed her on to Abdul Sabool Shinwary.