The multi-agency operation, together with Luton Borough Council, the Romanian Embassy in London and the National Crime Agency, identified 21 potential victims at the properties in Wolston Close and Ridgway Road after warrants were executed at around 5.15am. An investigation is on-going to identify whether they have been exploited in violation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Detective Chief Inspector David Cestaro, investigating, said: “We are committed to disrupting any groups we believe are exploiting people. Modern day slavery is a priority for Bedfordshire Police and we are dedicated to cracking down on this callous crime.
“This is a complex multi-agency operation focused on victim protection and we continue to work hard with partner agencies to act on any information that we receive. Human trafficking is a highly profitable crime and victims are often exploited in public view, but we are working hard to put an end to this activity.”
People found at the addresses are being supported by the local authority, together with the Romanian Embassy, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Citizens Advice Luton and various charities, receiving advice and medical, health, psychological and social welfare care.
Bedford commuters: Only travel if absolutely necessary this weekend
Police step up patrols after Bedford car workshop broken into more than 35 TIMES
Burst water main on outskirts of Bedford causes concern
Three members of the same Bedford family die in Italian road crash
‘Threatening and violent’ beggar banned from Bedford and ANY Tesco in town
Cllr Tom Shaw, Portfolio Holder for housing at Luton Council said: “We hope today’s operation sends a very strong message that we will act on information we receive, especially if we suspect that people are being exploited. Modern day slavery is illegal and ruins lives.
“Our Rogue Landlord project in partnership with the police, fire service and other organisations helps to identify and take appropriate action against the minority of landlords who we believe have no thought for the welfare of their tenants – driving up the standard of our housing in Luton.”
DCI Cestaro added: “Sadly slavery is still a real and increasing problem and people are being exploited in our county. We urge people to consider the signs of exploitation and trust their curiosity and act. We work hard with partners to raise awareness and educate our communities as we need people to be vigilant and be confident in coming forward.”
PCSOs will be carrying out reassurance patrols in the local area today. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
A 29-year-old man from Luton has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering and enslavement and has been bailed until April.