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12 September 2011

Operation Netwing – Slavery Arrest Update

Detectives today continue to question four of the five people in custody who were arrested under the Slavery and Servitude Act in Leighton Buzzard.

The woman arrested is pregnant and has been released on police bail and will be questioned further following the birth of her child which is imminent. Enquiries to locate two further suspects are underway.

Of the 24 vulnerable people who were taken from the Greenacre Caravan Site in Great Billington by police yesterday, nine have left the medical reception centre and have chosen not to support the police investigation. At the moment the remaining 15 continue to be assessed for medical and welfare needs and interviews with detectives will commence today. It will take a number of days to establish exactly what has happened to them while living on the site.

The victims that remain and are assisting the investigation include eight British men, three Polish men, a Latvian man and Lithuanian man and two further men whose nationalities are unconfirmed at this time. The oldest man is 57 (British) and the youngest is 30 (British). The others range between these ages. The men who chose to leave were British and two were Romanian. The youngest person found on site was a 17-year-old British man who has left the care of police and re-joined his family.

Operation Netwing is being led by Bedfordshire Police, supported by the local and health authorities and other agencies as well as the Human Trafficking Centre at SOCA.

DCI Sean O’Neil, from the Beds and Herts Major Crime Unit, investigating said: “Those people who we continue to help are appreciative of the support that is on offer, but it will take some time to work through with them what has happened. The new legislation has allowed the investigation more scope and takes into account emotional rather than physical harm. I am confident that while the investigation is in its early stages this is a family run ‘business’ and is an organised crime group that has been broken up by the Netwing operation.”

Any who wishes to talk to the police about this matter should call 01707 355798, or Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111 which is both anonymous and independent from the police. You do not have to give your name.

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