Six women and a child have been rescued after police raided four premises in Luton this morning.
The raids, at around 7am, were in connection with prostitution, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Nine people have been arrested in relation to human trafficking and prostitution offences.
The women and the child have been identified and taken to safety. The process of closing down three locations in relation to brothel activity is currently underway.
Detective Inspector Rob Regan said: “Today’s enforcement operation is the result of a long running investigation into organised criminal gangs bringing young women into the country for sexual exploitation and prostitution.
“The warrants were executed simultaneously and searches of those properties continue during the morning. The operation is about alleviating the suffering of the victims and tackling the human cost this type of criminality creates as well as bringing offenders to justice.”
Following the police operation The Salvation Army worked with the victims and provided practical and emotional support as needed at a reception centre.
Major Anne Read, The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking Response Co-ordinator, said: “The Salvation Army is working with Bedfordshire Police to rescue and support potential victims of trafficking. It is vital that victims of trafficking receive immediate access to specialised support. Our team has been working to assess the needs of the victims and ensure that they have access to accommodation and support at safe houses if needed.
“The Salvation Army operates a Government contract to provide vital help and support to adult victims of this pitiless exploitation which gives them the very best chance to try and recover through the comprehensive specialised services we can offer working with our partners.”
“The safety of victims and support for the Police in successfully prosecuting the perpetrators of this horrific crime are our key priorities. It is therefore not appropriate at this stage to disclose any further details about the victims or the nature of this crime.”
Anyone with information or concerns about human trafficking or prostitution should call Bedfordshire police, in confidence, at Bedfordshire Police on 101, or text information to 07786 200011.
Alternatively you can contact the independent crime fighting charity, Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.