Eight people have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking offences after a major investigation into the sexual exploitation of women in Luton.
Bedfordshire Police arrested five men and three women at four addresses in the town this morning (Wednesday). The suspects, who range from their 40s to their 20s, remain in police custody for questioning. Another man in his 20s was arrested at one of the addresses on suspicion of failing to appear at court.
It is the latest significant operation by the force to tackle suspected international gangs trafficking women into the country for sexual exploitation. Four men arrested in a similar operation in Luton last year are among 18 men facing trial in Romania this month for human trafficking offences.
Detective Inspector Louise Gent, from Bedfordshire Police CID, said: “Human traffickers exploit victims in the sex industry because the demand for sexual services means they can generate vast criminal profits.
“Unlike drugs or firearms, which are only bought or sold once, a victim being exploited in this way represents a continuous source of income for criminals. It is a heinous crime – and one we are determined to stop, as we see in this enforcement action today.
“Those paying for sex need to think about whether they are engaging a trafficked victim. Paying for sex with someone who has been trafficked is a criminal offence, regardless of whether the person paying knows that the other person has been trafficked.
“Law enforcement’s focus is on reducing vulnerability, protecting victims and targeting those who exploit or cause harm. These initial warrants will be just the start of our investigation, and we are determined to shut down those behind this exploitative and immoral industry.”
Police have released some key signs that may indicate someone is involved in sexual exploitation:
Adverts for sexual services offering individuals from a particular ethnic group or nationality
Sleeping on work premises
Movement of people between brothels or working in alternate locations
Individuals with very limited amounts of clothing or a large proportion of their clothing is ‘sexual’
Only being able to speak sexual words in the local language or language of their ‘client group’
Having tattoos or other marks indicating ‘ownership’ by their exploiters
Person forced, intimidated or coerced into providing services of a sexual nature
Person subjected to crimes such as abduction, assault or rape
Someone other than the potential victim receives the money from clients