16 potential ‘human trafficking victims’ rescued in huge South Armagh operation

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Monday, July 20th, 2015
Community, News
A PSNI-led operation against human trafficking for labour exploitation has rescued 16 potential victims in south Armagh. psni44Officers searched premises in Newtownhamilton last Friday and have spent a number of days working with partner agencies to identify those individuals who may have been trafficked. The proactive operation is focused on eastern Europeans working in the agricultural sector. Detectives from the PSNI Human Trafficking Unit are working with HM Revenue and Customs, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, the Health and Safety Executive and local police. The potential victims, men and women aged between 18 and 45, are being cared for by Migrant Help and Women’s Aid as part of the Department of Justice’s human trafficking support network. They will be assessed for referral to the UK Human Trafficking Centre which is run by the National Crime Agency. Speaking to Newry Times, Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant, from Serious Crime Branch, said, “In terms of the number of potential victims, this is one of the largest operations we have mounted in the past year. “Due to the numbers involved, and the challenges posed by language issues, it will take some time to form a clear picture of what exactly has taken place. But we are following a number of definite lines of enquiry and our investigation will continue for some time. “Our priorities are clear: we will work with partner agencies to establish the histories and circumstances of these potential victims and seek to ensure they are provided with every possible assistance which is available through the National Referral Mechanism and the UK Human Trafficking Centre,” he continued. “At the same time, we will progress our investigation to establish how these people came to Northern Ireland and the arrangements under which they were working. Any evidence of illegal activity will be brought before the courts. “Police would urge employers in every sector of business to ensure they are operating within the law in terms of accessing labour and offering employees appropriate terms and conditions. Police will investigate any evidence of exploitation or trafficking,” Detective Chief Inspector Grant added.  
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