Police crackdown on people smugglers using Northamptonshire roads
More checks on HGVs on A14, M1 and A45 as part of National Crime Agency campaign
Police are making extra checks on HGVs in Northamptonshire Police to step up the fight against peopl smuggling via the county's roads.
The Operation Aidant crackdown is co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency and follows the discovery of 39 bodies in a refrigerated lorry in Essex last October.
In Northamptonshire, officers charged 35 people with modern slavery and human trafficking offences over the last 12 months and the A14 running through the county is a major route for lorries coming from ports at Felixstowe and Harwich.
Last May, we reported how a major police investigation results in three arrests in Wellingborough and eight people being safeguarded including two teenage girls and three teenage boys.
Detective Chief Inspector Lee McBride, who is the force lead for tackling modern slavery, said: “This activity is part of a national campaign to tackle people smuggling, following the tragic events in Essex last year.
“We know modern slavery is happening in this county with men, women and children suffering at the hands of criminals."
“People smuggling is a horrible crime and we will not tolerate it in this county. The week’s activity is aimed at protecting vulnerable people and bringing to justice anybody peddling this human exploitation and misery.
Local police will be joined by Highways England, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and Immigration officers to engage with drivers, conduct checks and offer advice on the county's roads – particularly major routes the A14, M1 and A45 – and lorry parks.
The UK is a prime destination for men, women, and children from Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe who are trafficked for sexual slavery and forced labour,
Operation Aidant is run nationally every year and also targets migrants already in the UK.
Police issued an appeal to those victims -- or -people with information on modern slavery -- not to be scared to speak up either by phone or by using a new app.
DCI Lee McBride added: "My message for victims is please call us. We will listen and we will believe you.
"If you think you’re a victim but you are unsure, get in touch and we’ll help you work out if you are.
“There are a number of ways you can get help and report what is happening to you including the ‘Unseen’ app, downloadable from a smart phone’s app store.
"This gives access to help if you are in an exploitative situation or think you might be, with a secure and direct link to report concerns you may have.
"The nature of these crimes means victims are hidden and controlled so it can be hard to spot or recognise, particularly for victims of sexual exploitation, forced labour or domestic servitude.
"But these are the signs to be aware of, including showing signs of physical abuse, having few or no personal effects, poor living conditions and restricted freedom of movement or travel.
"If you see something, say something and together we can break the cycle of exploitation."
There are number of ways to report and get help and advice: call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111 or Northamptonshire Police on 101.