Five nail bars targeted in human trafficking arrests across south London

5 December 2019, 19:47

Met Police carried out dawn raids of nail bars
Met Police carried out dawn raids of nail bars. Picture: Met Police / PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A group of 14 men and women have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and modern slavery offences following dawn raids in Southwark.

Metropolitan Police officers targeted five nail bars in south London after being informed that vulnerable people were employed at the businesses.

A total of 13 individuals were arrested for modern slavery and human trafficking offences, while one was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

The suspects were taken to south London police stations and remain in custody.

Concerns were first raised to Southwark Local Authority and the Met in July this year, with officers from Centralist Specialist Crime (CSC) leading the five-month, multi-agency investigation.

The venues in question were at the following addresses:

- Peckham High Street, SE15;
- Walworth Road, SE17;
- Camberwell Road, SE5;
- Rye Lane, SE15;
- Walworth Road SE17.

The investigation involved more than 150 individuals, including 100 Met officers, immigration services, Southwark Council, social services, the NHS, and a range of charities dedicated to supporting victims of human trafficking.

Specially trained officers found two dozen people - 19 adults and five children - inside the addresses, who received specialist support and medical treatment at a nearby reception centre .

A range of items and a vehicle were also seized as part of the operation.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers, from CSC, said he was "pleased with the results of this multi-agency operation" that was launched to "ultimately protect the public."

“Human trafficking, modern slavery and sexual exploitation often occur in plain sight, and it is often the case those carrying out these offences exploit those from less fortunate backgrounds who have travelled to our county for a better life," he said.

"They prey on the knowledge these individuals will carry out hard, labour-intensive work to provide for themselves."

Mr Rogers added he hoped the investigation would "raise the public’s awareness of these shocking crime types" and would send "a clear message to those involved that we will work with all agencies and law enforcement to identify and bring them to justice.”

Cllr Victoria Mills from Southwark Council confirmed they had been working with the Met during the operation.

She said: "Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of the women, children and other vulnerable adults, caught up in this despicable trade.

"Our officers are working with the police, specialist Vietnamese charities, the Salvation Army, social care and other support staff, to help those who wish to access support."

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