Joint operation targeting human trafficking
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Officers from Essex Police assisted colleagues in Immigration Enforcement and Border Force in a joint operation last week, Thursday 4 June.
Working together, the agencies targeted the M25 in Thurrock to stop heavy goods vehicles who may be exploiting people through human trafficking or modern slavery.
In total 53 lorries were stopped and two drivers were voluntarily interviewed.
Officers also recorded a total of 39 driver infringements, from not wearing seatbelts to going over legal driver hours, and issued a total of £950 in fines for these breaches.
No arrests were made.
Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “we know our officers, and officers and staff at the nearby ports, work closely with Border Force and Immigration Enforcement on a regular basis, and we collaborate to ensure that victims are not at the risk of trafficking or slavery, and that we have an up-to-date picture on any Organised Crime Groups who may be facilitating this travel.
“Since the tragic discovery of 39 deceased Vietnamese nationals in Grays last October, Essex Police has reinforced its commitment to ending this exploitation.
“Our Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit continues to investigate new referrals around these offences, and we’ve worked to update our force-wide policy with Border Force and Immigration Enforcement surrounding clandestine lorry drops to ensure that we are further protecting vulnerable migrants who may have been financially, emotionally, or physically exploited to get into the country.
“We’re also continuing to work closely with haulage companies, and individual drivers, to provide guidance on what they should do in this situation.”
Minister for Immigration Compliance Chris Philp said:
“The organised crime gangs who facilitate illegal entry in to the UK put desperate people in real danger.
“Educating drivers on keeping their vehicles secure from clandestine entry is an important part of tackling this ruthless trade and part of our ongoing work with Essex Police to clamp down on these criminals.”