Four people from Watford have been arrested as part of a European-wide week of action to combat the sexual exploitation of trafficked individuals.
During the week of September 16 to 22, warrants were served at businesses in Watford, Bishop’s Stortford and Hemel Hempstead.
Three businesses were searched in Watford and three women (30, 32 and 37), and a 32-year-old man from Watford were arrested in relation to immigration matters.
During the week the constabulary’s modern slavery unit, Operation Tropic, carried out activities focusing on victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
They were supported by the force’s Operational Support Group, as well as regional partners from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, NHS Safeguarding nurses, Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, Immigration and Border Control and the British Red Cross.
Detective sergeant Jill Green from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Tropic said: “As the number of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking grow in the UK, there is more potential for these vulnerable people to be exploited sexually.
“These weeks of action are an important tool for all of the agencies working together to identify and rescue trafficked and exploited individuals. In many cases it is difficult to obtain evidence that a crime has been committed, as victims are reluctant to cooperate with police.
“These operations enable us to speak to the individuals and get them help. Victims can be anyone, from people living on the streets, vulnerable children and adults, to even people trafficked into the country who speak little English.
“As part of the drive to combat modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation we are keen to raise awareness of this little understood issue and urge people to be vigilant and report anything they consider suspicious.”
Advice on how to spot someone who is being sexually exploited can be found at Herts Constabulary’s website.