Leeds human trafficking victims rescued

Bedroom in messy conditions West Yorkshire Police said many of the people rescued were living in "very poor conditions"
Three cots A number of children were among the 17 people identified as potential human trafficking victims

Seventeen people, including children, have been "rescued" as part of a human trafficking investigation.

West Yorkshire Police said the people, mostly from Slovakia, were taken from 25 different addresses in south and west Leeds.

The force said the three-day-operation was part of an investigation into an "organised criminal gang" thought to be involved in human trafficking, benefit fraud and labour exploitation.

Eight people were arrested and bailed.

Start Quote

Many were living in very poor housing conditions with no access to local support services and little if any income to exist on”

End Quote Det Ch Insp Andy Williams

During the operation police officers worked with council staff and charity workers to visit 25 properties where families had been "identified as being potential victims of trafficking".

Most of the 17 people taken into police care and put into the National Referral Mechanism are from Slovakia, police said.

They will now be given protection and support.

Another 33 people "preferred not to co-operate and remained where they were".

'Little or no pay'

Det Ch Insp Andy Williams said: "A multi-agency operation on this scale involving such a large number of potential human trafficking victims is unprecedented in West Yorkshire.

"Many were living in very poor housing conditions with no access to local support services and little if any income to exist on. Others were having their benefits taken from them and being exploited by being forced to work long hours for little or no pay."

Maj Anne Read from the Salvation Army, which was involved in the operation, said it was working with West Yorkshire Police to support the victims.

She said: "Our team has been working to assess the needs of the victims and ensure that they have access to accommodation and support at safe houses if needed."

Mr Williams said the investigation was ongoing and further arrests were expected.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Leeds & West Yorkshire

Weather

Leeds

24 °C 15 °C

Features & Analysis

  • Dr Mahinder Watsa Dr Sex

    The wisecracking 90-year-old whose advice column is a cult hit


  • Payton McKinnonLeft behind

    Why do so many children die in hot cars?


  • Cooling towers at the Temelin nuclear power station, Czech Republic, 2011Nuclear links

    The EU's dependence on Russian-designed power plants


  • Tony Goldman graffiti in Wynwood.Graffiti's draw Watch

    How street art gave a Miami neighbourhood new life


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Kyoto.Falling for Kyoto

    Acclaimed writer Pico Iyer describes an enchanting first stroll through the city

Programmes

  • A Royal Opera House performanceThe Travel Show Watch

    How the cast at the Royal Opera House are suited and booted for their spectacular stage shows

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.