Devon

Eight held in Devon and Cornwall after slavery raids

Slavery raid
Image caption The suspects, all from eastern Europe, were arrested on suspicion of committing crimes linked to slavery

Eight people have been arrested by police in Devon and Cornwall on suspicion of slavery.

There were four raids in Plymouth and one in Bodmin.

The suspects, all from eastern Europe, were arrested on suspicion of committing crimes linked to forced labour and domestic servitude.

Eight men, all suspected victims of human trafficking and Czech nationals, were taken to safety.

Police arrested eight people - five women aged between 26 and 34 and three men aged between 35 and 37.

13 children

All were arrested on suspicion of trafficking people into the UK for the purpose of labour exploitation and on suspicion of money laundering.

They remain in custody in Plymouth.

Police said 13 children, thought to be linked to the suspects, were found at the addresses and were taken to safety.

The raids were part of Operation Triage, which was launched in March following allegations made to police by a man from the Czech Republic who reported he had been subject to adult labour exploitation in Plymouth.

The operation has involved more than 200 staff from police, Plymouth City Council, the National Crime Agency, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, The British Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Ch Supt Andy Boulting said: "This is the largest operation of its kind run by Devon and Cornwall Police and a first for Plymouth."

Det Supt Jim Colwell, the force lead for modern slavery, added: "The scale of the problem is likely to be much bigger than we currently perceive as it is a type of crime that is very well hidden."

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