Multi-agency operation carried out to combat human trafficking
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Dozens of lorries have been searched as part of a major operation at a service station to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking.
Operation Thomond saw officers from Bedfordshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Surrey Police working alongside the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to proactively stop and search lorries as they entered Toddington Services, off the M1.
The focus of the pre-planned operation on Tuesday (8 February) was to search for vulnerable people who may have been trafficked into the UK for the purpose of labour exploitation and domestic servitude.
Toddington Services has been identified as a location used by human traffickers to facilitate the collection of people who have been smuggled into the country into lorries.
A total of 45 HGVs were stopped across the course of the day; 37 were searched with partner agencies and immigration services. A number of civil penalties and vehicle offences were also identified including:
£400 of civil penalties were collected for vehicles that were found to be overweight, in dangerous condition, two prohibitions and one for driving above reasonable hours.
Over 35 intelligence reports were also obtained and shared with Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency.
Inspector Andre Tringham, the Operational Policing Team Manager for the Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration National Crime Unit, said: “Protecting the vulnerable and exploited victims and pursuing those who commit these offences is something we take extremely seriously.
“Pro-active multi-agency operations like these are crucial in identifying vulnerable victims who may be being trafficked into the UK. They also enable us and our partners to identify other driving offences which could result in harm being caused to the public on our roads.”
If you have information about modern slavery and human trafficking, you can report this to us via our online reporting tool.