Detectives have made two arrests and safeguarded a number of victims from brothels in east London as part of an operation to crackdown on sexual exploitation and modern slavery offences.
Officers from Central Specialist Crime carried out early morning raids today, Wednesday, 20 May, at four addresses in Newham and one address in Romford. Four of the addresses were brothels and one was both a brothel and a residential addresses.
As a result two men, both Romanian nationals, were arrested. One of the suspects attacked officers with an axe before he attempted to escape over a back wall. An officer suffered minor injuries to his hand.
Those arrested are a 24-year-old man [A] who was arrested on suspicion of controlling prostitution and a 30-year-old man [B], who was arrested on suspicion of controlling prostitution and attempted grievous bodily harm on a police officer.
Both men have been taken to an east London police station where they remain in custody.
A total of eight women, all Romanian nationals, were found inside the properties. They are being supported by specially trained officers and will receive medical treatment and further support.
The victims will be safeguarded with the assistance of partner agencies, including The Salvation Army, who will help to ensure they have somewhere safe to stay and the support they need to begin to rebuild their lives.
The arrests are part of an investigation into an organised crime group believed to be sexually exploiting women at brothels in Newham.
Detective Inspector Nigel Penney said:
“I am pleased with the result of this multi-agency operation that took months of hard work to investigate and set up.
“The Met is entirely committed to tackling these crimes and protect the most vulnerable of people in our communities. We will continue to work closely with our partners as we have on this particular operation, to target those involved in this criminality and prevent them from exploiting innocent individuals any further.”
As a result of this morning’s warrants, Brothel Closure Orders have been applied to the premises visited.
Director of Anti-trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army, Major Kathy Betteridge, said:
“Thanks to the continued efforts of the Metropolitan Police to rescue people being abused through slavery, we have the chance to reach these vulnerable people to get them the support they urgently need.
“All the victims rescued in the operation in London today, have been offered protective care and specialist support by The Salvation Army. Through a Government contract to provide support, the church and charity works with adult victims of slavery to ensure they have the very best chance to recover.
“During the current pandemic our safe houses and outreach services are still operating within Government guidelines, so we can continue to help begin to rebuild their lives. We have adapted the way we help them access the things they need, such as counselling, medical, legal and financial support, to protect them from infection.
“As lockdown begins to ease we are calling on the public to be vigilant in spotting the signs of people still trapped in slave-like conditions and report their suspicions to help the police combat this evil crime.
“If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with may be a victim of modern slavery and in need of help, please call The Salvation Army’s 24-hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733.”
Communities have an important role to play in recognising modern slavery. If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, tell someone. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.
To report a suspicion or seek advice contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
You can also report it police online at www.met.police.uk or by calling 101. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org