UK & World News

  • 30 June 2014, 19:31

Slavery Arrests After 'Victim Held For 26 Years'

Four men have been arrested as part of a joint anti-slavery operation in Cardiff and Bristol.

Two victims are in police care with one claiming to have been a victim of slavery for 26 years.

Seventy police officers from Gwent Police, Avon and Somerset Police and South Wales Police made the arrests at five properties.

Three men - aged 57, 37 and 33 - were held on suspicion of knowingly or conspiring to hold a person in slavery, servitude or requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour, kidnap, false imprisonment and assault.

A fourth man, aged 34, was arrested on suspicion of knowingly or conspiring to hold a person in slavery, servitude or requiring another person to perform forced or compulsory labour and assault.

Both alleged victims are said to be in good health and being looked after by specialist officers.

These arrests form part of Operation Imperial which was set up to combat the issue of slavery.

Police were made aware of the victims by members of the public who called the operation's specific helpline which was set up after a high-profile slavery investigation last September.

Lead officer Detective Superintendent Paul Griffiths said: "The alleged offences we are investigating are extremely serious and we would urge anyone with any information which could assist to contact the Imperial team directly by dialling 01633 647174.

"Alternatively, if someone has information and would rather not pass this directly to the police then I would urge them to contact Crimestoppers, which is independent of the police and guarantees complete anonymity on 0800 555 111."

The Welsh Assembly launched a campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking and slavery earlier this year.

UK ministers also announced plans for a Modern Slavery Bill in the Queen's Speech.

The legislation, which the Home Office want passed before the general election could see people convicted of the most serious offences, including trafficking, jailed for life.

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