SIX men thought to be working as slaves have been rescued after a police operation into forced labour and human trafficking in Dorset.
It came after a raid at an address in Bournemouth today.
Police officers and staff were involved in the operation at a business unit in Ringwood Road.
As a result six suspected male victims, aged between 20 and 30 years, have been taken to a place of safety and are being given all the help and support they need, Dorset Police said.
A 23-year-old man from Bournemouth was arrested in connection with slavery offences and later realesed on bail, pending further enqiuirires Dorset Police said.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Connolly, director of investigations, said: “Today’s operation is the result of a detailed and protracted inquiry and our primary aim is to protect and safeguard vulnerable victims.”
Watch a video of Det Supt Connolly talking about the operation here:
Dorset Police was assisted by a number of other partners and agencies, including Bournemouth Borough Council, the National Crime Agency (UK Human Trafficking Centre) and Red Cross to ensure support is in place for the suspected victims.
Det Supt Connolly added: “Human trafficking is happening up and down the country.
“In such cases victims are often forced to live and work in poor and unsanitary conditions, sometimes with little or no pay. Some may not recognise themselves as victims and, even if they do, they may feel unable to speak to the police or other authorities.
“Human trafficking is a serious offence and Dorset Police remains committed towards tackling such cases.
“Human trafficking, particularly in the form of servitude, is a hidden crime and we will do everything we can to ensure this immoral trade is stopped. In order to do this we also need help from the public.
“I would urge anyone who has any information about such offences in Dorset or concerns about people in their community to contact us in confidence on 101.”
Dorset Police has this year been undergoing further education and awareness training for staff and officers as part of Operation Eagle – a national ACPO campaign against human trafficking and slavery.