Published: 10:10, 16 May 2018
| Updated: 09:50, 17 May 2018
Three men and a woman have been arrested following a string of dawn raids in east Kent as part of a human trafficking and modern slavery investigation.
The early-morning busts were carried out in Folkestone, Dover and Lydd today, with seven more locations due to be searched throughout the day.
Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate executed warrants at four different locations linked to a suspected organised crime network, with links to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Two of the men, aged 47 and 25, were arrested at the same property in Dover this morning on suspicion of arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation, contrary to the 2015 Modern Slavery Act.
Both remain in custody while enquiries continue.
A further two people were then arrested in the day - a 38 year-old woman and 39 year-old man from Folkestone.
Officers have also identified 12 potential victims of modern slavery so far, all of whom have have been taken into safety.
Video: Police carry out modern slavery raids
The 4am raids were carried out with assistance from the Salvation Army.
Anne Read, director of anti-trafficking and modern slavery for the charity, said: "Following the police operation all victims have been offered safe delivery into protective care and specialist support through a Government contract operated by The Salvation Army.
"Following the police operation all victims have been offered safe delivery into protective care and specialist support through a Government contract operated by The Salvation Army..." - Anne Read, Salvation Army
"This provides vital help and support to adult victims of this pitiless exploitation, which gives them the very best chance to recover through comprehensive specialised services, which can range from intensive 24/7 support in the first stages of recovery or for people with high-level needs to counselling and help with accommodation, repatriation, finances and finding employment.
"For England and Wales please call The Salvation Army’s 24-hour confidential referral helpline on 0300 303 8151 to refer someone or seek advice if you consider yourself to be a potential victim of modern slavery or suspect someone you have come into contact with may be a victim of modern slavery."
Detective Inspector James Derham said: "Human trafficking and modern slavery are two of the fastest-growing international crimes and a large source of income for the people responsible, who care little for the misery they inflict on victims who are often lured to the UK on the promise of a better life.
"Instead they are forced to carry out backbreaking or degrading work for little or no pay while living in substandard conditions and being mistreated and abused on a daily basis.
"Tackling human trafficking and modern slavery is a priority for Kent Police and we will be relentless in our pursuit of those whom we believe are responsible for the exploitation of others. Such offences have no place in a civilised society and we are keen to do everything we can to prevent them from happening and protect those who are most at risk.’
Anyone who suspects human trafficking or modern slavery could be taking place can report incidents at www.kent.police.uk/report or call 101.
Alternatively, call Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or the National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
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