Detectives from PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) have arrested a 33 year old man in East Belfast on suspicion of human trafficking offences for the purpose of Domestic Servitude earlier today, Tuesday 30 April. A search was also carried out at a property and a number of pieces of documentation and mobile phones were seized. A 25 year old woman was also arrested today in Scotland as part of the operation and is being brought back to Northern Ireland for questioning.
Detective Inspector Mark Bell, Head of PSNI’s MSHTU said: “These arrests are part of a protracted investigation into human trafficking for domestic servitude in Northern Ireland which has been going on for over a year. They are the first arrests of their kind.
“Modern slavery is often an unseen crime as victims can be afraid to speak out or may be being held captive and human trafficking for the purposes of domestic servitude can be particularly difficult to detect. Victims may be afraid to speak out so we need the public to be aware of the signs to look for so that they don’t miss the opportunity to intervene in a modern slavery incident. Is there always someone else speaking for a person on their behalf? Do people have access to their money, identity documents and freedom of movement?
“During the last financial year, my team have investigated 59 potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking - a significant increase from 36 the previous financial year. However, every victim has a story about a missed opportunity for rescue by a person in the community so I’m asking the public to visit the Human Trafficking section of PSNI’s website and learn about the signs and indicators of human trafficking.
“It can be hard to believe that modern slavery and human trafficking exists today but it is all too real, especially for the victims. Modern slavery is unacceptable as it violates human rights and denies victims their rights to life, freedom and safety. The criminals prey on vulnerable people, control them by fear and exploit them for their own selfish gains.
“We are working as hard as we can but we cannot tackle this problem alone. We rely on the strong partnerships that have been formed through the Department of Justice Organised Crime Task Force but we need the public’s help.
“I would also ask people to contact us with any suspicions that they may have by calling 999 if it’s an emergency, or 101. There’s also a Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. One call could end the misery for a victim who could be living next door to you.”
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