Six trafficked women rescued from Luton brothels after police raids - with six people arrested

Six "traumatised" women trafficked from Romania were rescued in a series of police raids on brothels in Luton yesterday (Thursday)

By Stewart Carr
Friday, 19th June 2020, 1:59 pm
Updated Friday, 19th June 2020, 2:02 pm

Three addresses in Luton suspected of housing brothels or being linked to a wider organised crime network were searched by police yesterday afternoon.

All of the women, who were from Romania, have been offered support as victims of modern slavery and taken to a safety shelter.

Specialist support workers from Luton charity Azalea, Luton Borough Council's public health team and sexual health services joined Bedfordshire Police on the operation, with more than 30 professionals involved in total.

Yesterday's raid in Luton

Three men from Luton, one man from Kent and two women from Luton were arrested on suspicion of keeping a brothel.

All six remain in police custody while enquiries continue.

Inspector Jim Goldsmith, who led the operation, said: “It can take up to 10 encounters with the police or with an agency before victims feel confident and safe enough to engage with us and reach out for support...

“Organised criminal networks will lie to, bully and exploit their victims in the sex trade, all in the name of making money through sexual services.

Police safeguarded six women

“Thousands of women in the UK sex industry are trafficked into the country under false pretences by these crime gangs. Buyers should be fully aware of the ruthless and exploitative nature of this industry.”

Ruth Robb, from Azalea, added: “These women are often extremely vulnerable and traumatised by their experiences, so will need that intensive support.

“Huge credit should go to Bedfordshire Police for tackling the gangs behind these women’s exploitation, as well as involving agencies who can give victims the help they need.”

Superintendent David Cestaro added: “Serious and organised crime so often takes the form of exploiting the vulnerable amongst us.

“I am determined that we work solidly, with purpose, with our partners to identify such cases, protect the victims and bring offenders to justice.

“This is an example of what can be achieved when statutory and voluntary partners come together to tackle issues uncovered by intelligence and community concerns.”

Anyone with information about a suspected brothel, can report it to police on 101 or via bedfordshire.police.uk/reportInformation can also be reported anonymously via the Modern Slavery Helpline, on 08000 121 700.

Azalea is a local charity working with the victims of human trafficking. For advice or to report any concerns, contact them on 01582 227303.