Police visit brothels in Portsmouth to find slavery victims

BROTHELS are being visited by police to identify potential victims of slavery.

Wednesday, 19th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:59 pm
Picture posed by model

Massage parlours and nail bars are being visited in four separate days of action that end on Friday, police said.

It comes as UK Anti-Slavery Day was marked yesterday.

Officers are aiming to find victims of modern slavery to build up intelligence so they can then tackle offenders.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hampshire police’s tactical lead on slavery, Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Bitters, said: ‘This activity focuses heavily on safeguarding potential victims of modern slavery.

‘We have a specialist team in force trained to work with victims of modern slavery, and these officers will be leading the visits.

‘Alongside our partners we are showing potential victims that there is help and support available to escape from a life of modern slavery.

‘They may come from countries where the relationship with the police and other authorities is very different to the UK and may not know who to turn to or how to contact them for help.’

The National Crime Agency-led project, Operation Perceptional, aims to protect victims and catch offenders.

Hampshire police are visiting victims of trafficking in Portsmouth, Southampton, Basingstoke and Winchester.

Jess Gealer is from the Medaille Trust and co-ordinator for Hampshire Modern Slavery Partnership, which was set up last year.

She said: ‘We have difficulties when we engage with victims of modern slavery.

‘They might not know they’re a victim, and they might not speak English or know who to report to.

‘When we work with the police whilst they’re focusing on a criminal justice side, we’re focusing on reducing their vulnerability and empowering them to be free from exploitation whilst they’re here in the UK.’

• An earlier version of this article said brothels were being raided, but this was incorrect.