Wiltshire Police carried out two proactive days of action on Wednesday 1 June 2016 and Thursday 2 June 2016 in relation to Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery.
The Force and partners, including the UK Border Force, Immigration Authority, HM Revenue and Customs and the Housing and Social Services teams for Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council, visited twenty local businesses to check on the welfare of their employees and assess whether there was any evidence of potential exploitation.
Whilst there was no sign of vulnerable people being exploited, as a result of the visits thirteen people were arrested for immigration offences. These are as follows:
• Megan Nails, Fleet Street, Swindon: five males aged 18 to 37
• American Fashion Nails, Commercial Road, Swindon: a male aged 28
• Hand Car Wash, Bridge End Road, Swindon: two males aged 24
• Easy Clean Car Wash, Woodstock Road, Warminster: two males aged 21 and 24
• Apples Nails and Beauty, Market Place, Warminster: a male aged 25 and a female aged 26
• Luxury Nails, Minster Street, Salisbury: one male aged 21.
There was a further arrest made for the offence of controlling and managing a brothel:
• Images Massage Parlour, Fore Street, Trowbridge: one male aged 73.
Detective Sergeant Chris Hitchcock from the Wiltshire Intelligence Unit said “The main reason for this action was to identify whether there were any vulnerable people being exploited in our communities.
“Thankfully Wiltshire doesn’t have a high proportion of Human Trafficking / Modern Slavery. However, this is an emerging threat in our communities and the picture is constantly changing, that’s why we have to be proactive, build up our intelligence of what is happening and work with our partners accordingly. We are committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society and this is all part of that commitment.
“We’ve focused our efforts on visiting the types of businesses where, sadly, human trafficking and other types of exploitation have been known to take place. These include hand car washes and nail bars, although I must stress that exploitation doesn’t just happen in these types of establishments and there are many perfectly legitimate businesses that treat their workers well.
“Whilst carrying out our visits we have encountered a number of workers who don’t have the correct documentation to live and work in the UK. As is standard practice we have arrested these individuals and they will be passed over to the Immigration Authority who will deal with them appropriately.
“Business owners found to employ illegal workers are potentially liable for fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal employee within their business. The Immigration Authority is responsible for pursuing these fines. It is the responsibility of business owners to check whether their employees have entitlement to work in the UK.
Victims of human trafficking and exploitation aren’t always immediately obvious to spot but there are some potential indicators that may help the public. For example:
• their appearance may hold clues as to how they are being treated
• they may not speak any English
• they may show emotional signs of exploitation such as anxiety, fear, withdrawal or distress
• they may appear to be very young or they may appear to have no prior experience of the job they are doing (for example nail care).
If members of the public have concerns that someone may be a victim of exploitation they should call 101 and give as much detail as possible. The information will then be passed on to the Wiltshire Police Human Exploitation and Emerging Threats (HEET) team for further investigation.