December 6 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Some of the most vulnerable people displaced by last Tuesday’s early morning police raids against gangmasters have been taken to safe houses in other parts of England and Wales.
The eight co-ordinated raids, which involved about 300 police officers and partner agencies, led to 10 arrests and three gangmasters having their licences suspended.
In the aftermath of the raids, about 80 people stayed at a temporary reception centre run by Fenland District Council and the British Red Cross, which provided beds and meals for three days.
The majority of the people affected have returned home or gone to stay with friends in the area but a minority have asked to join the Salvation Army’s National Referral Scheme.
They have been transferred to safe houses where they are receiving ongoing support.
A Salvation Army spokesman said: “The majority of the 80 people who attended the reception centre decided they were happy to return home or had friends in the area to stay with.
“But for some people there was not that support network so at their request we took them into our care.
“They were frightened, vulnerable and needed time to recover.
“They will stay with us for a minimum of 45 days. We will help them get documents, ensure they receive medical help and offer them a supportive environment.
“They can decide whether they want to return to their country of origin or stay in the country.”
The raids have given the victims of exploitation a glimmer of hope, the spokesman said.
She said: “It is the largest operation of this kind we have been involved in.
“One of our workers at the reception centre said the relief, joy and anticipation on the faces of the victims liberated from oppression was something to behold.”
About 15 FDC staff from various teams were involved at the reception centre, helping to register everyone coming in and assisting the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in providing advice on housing options and work that could be available.
Councillor David Oliver, FDC’s cabinet member responsible for community safety and Wisbech affairs, said: “We’re very pleased with the whole operation and the way that all the various agencies have worked so well together.
“It reflects the close partnership created over the past year through Operation Pheasant, which we will continue to build on over the coming months.
“The feedback we’ve had from the national agencies involved has been that the operation at the centre was the best they had seen anywhere.”
If you are a victim of trafficing or believe someone else is being exploited you can call a 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 3038151 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information go to www.salvationarmy.org.uk/uki/Trafficking