Slaves freed from UK traveller's site

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 3:33am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 3:33am


Three men who were thought to be victims of slavery have been freed following a series of raids in South Gloucestershire and Bristol, in southwest England.

On Sunday morning, police from Avon and Somerset constabulary investigating forced labour and human trafficking raided three traveller's sites, a business unit and a house in South Gloucestershire, and a residential property in Bristol. Three men - one in his 30s, one in his 40s and one in his 50s - were freed and taken to safety.

Two people were arrested in connection with slavery offences and five were detained on suspicion of offences including cannabis production, money laundering and handling stolen goods.

Police said a significant sum of cash was found at one of the addresses, while a trailer, believed to be stolen, and cannabis plants were seized at a farm.

The force said that it had launched an investigation into forced labour and human trafficking following intelligence obtained by Britain's Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Chief Superintendent Julian Moss, the head of CID, said: "We know from talking with other police forces and charities such as [anti-human trafficking charity] Unseen that victims in such cases are often forced to live and work in poor and unsanitary conditions, sometimes with little or no pay," he said. "Some of those affected will not view themselves as victims and, even if they do, may have been unable to speak to the police or any other authorities for a variety of reasons."

Moss added: "It's important to recognise that the actions of a small minority of people are not reflective of the wider travelling community."