Modern slavery investigation leads to eight arrests

Police officer holding hand cuffs.

Police have made eight arrests following morning raids in Hackney and elsewhere. - Credit: Metropolitan Police

Morning raids uncovered an alleged modern slavery operation involving what police say is the trafficking of Chinese women for sexual exploitation.

Seven warrants were undertaken today (March 16) which led to eight arrests at addresses in Hackney, Hounslow, Bexleyheath, Kingston and Watford, as well as elsewhere in Hertfordshire. 

The warrants were part of Operation Snoop, an investigation led by the Met's Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Unit (MSCE).

They follow a year-long investigation.

Six men and two women were arrested on suspicion of crimes, including controlling prostitution for gain contrary to Section 53 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and arranging or facilitating travel of another person with a view to exploitation contrary to sections of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Police say some of the addresses they raided were operating as brothels.

Officers from the MSCE, interpreters and colleagues who speak Mandarin also accompanied the warrants.

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Vulnerable people at the addresses are now receiving support from specialist officers.

Acting Det Insp Nick Bland of the Central Specialist Crime Unit said: "Young women who are trafficked into this country for sexual exploitation are often sold a dream in terms of what their life in the UK may look like, [but] that dream is quickly unravelled upon their arrival to the country, where they will often be forced to live in abject poverty and be at the beck and call of their traffickers.

"In some cases, it is impossible for these women to escape to their home countries as their travel documents are confiscated."

Police are now working to seize evidence to support the allegations of human trafficking and controlling prostitution, including mobile phones, computers, travel documents, cash, passports, ledgers and any material linked to sex adverts.