'Slaves' rescued in police raids across England

Twenty people who were allegedly forced to work as slaves have been rescued as part of a police operation covering three English counties.

Officers took part in raids early on Tuesday at two addresses in Gloucestershire and at caravan sites in Leicestershire and Derbyshire.

Three men aged 50, 28 and 22, and a woman, 46, were arrested under anti-slavery laws.

More than 200 officers took part in the operation.

'Complicated operation'

Assets totalling £2m, a number of vehicles and other evidence were seized by police.

The suspects are being questioned at an unnamed police station in Gloucestershire.

Det Ch Insp David Sellwood, of Gloucestershire Constabulary who is leading the investigation, said the arrests and recovery of victims marked the culmination of many months' work.

"The arrests and searches we have carried out are the first visible activity, and the co-ordination of the operation has been complicated, but we are very grateful to our colleagues in both Derbyshire and Leicestershire for their support.

"The people we believe are victims of these offences are now all being cared for, and we'll be working with partner agencies to help them recover and establish a better way of life."

Slavery, Servitude and Force or Compulsory Labour is a new offence under Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

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