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Modern slavery investigators arrest Romanian man suspected of human trafficking in early morning raid

PUBLISHED: 10:40 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:15 17 October 2019

Stock image of a raid Picture: KAREN WILLIE

Stock image of a raid Picture: KAREN WILLIE

KAREN WILLIE

Investigators raided a property in Ipswich early this morning to arrest a 37-year-old Romanian man suspected of human trafficking and modern slavery offences.

The raid was carried out by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority in the east of the town after officers received intelligence that the suspect was controlling the finances of potential victims.

The suspect is currently being questioned in custody on suspicion of forcing people to work in the food processing sector in the region.

GLAA investigating officer Michael Waters said: "We will relentlessly pursue anyone we suspect is committing acts of forced or compulsory labour and take all steps necessary to protect vulnerable workers at risk of exploitation.

"I would encourage the public to be aware of some of the more visible signs of exploitation and report any concerns they have to us."

The problem of modern slavery is on the rise in Suffolk, according to recent figures. National Crime Agency data showed the number of victims identified by Suffolk Constabulary almost doubled from 13 in 2017 to 24 in 2018.

Previous operations by authorities saw seven people arrested on modern slavery charges in Ipswich in February. A further operation last August, saw a 42-year-old Romanian man arrested in the town.

Suffolk authorities teamed up earlier this year to launch a campaign alerting people to the signs of slavery. The message: "The signs aren't always clear - Is modern slavery happening on your street?" was put on an Ipswich bin lorry for six weeks.

Det Supt David Giles said at the time that modern slavery was often hidden and so the public had a vital role to play in identifying its victims.

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"Very often the victims live in fear and are too frightened or unwilling to come forward but this has to stop," he added. "We need to open people's eyes to the slavery all around them, and encourage victims to speak out.

He said that although the problem was "relatively rare" it could affected all ages, gender and nationalities

Anyone who suspects someone is being exploited for their labour is asked to email the GLAA's intelligence team or call 0800 4320804.

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