Two women safeguarded following modern slavery operation

Seven properties have been visited in Stoke-on-Trent, to safeguard potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Officers from Staffordshire Police's specialist investigations team, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's Private Sector Housing team, Immigration, and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority target houses of multiple-occupancy (HMOs) in Hanley, Fenton, Shelton, and Middleport.

Housing officers found a significant number of hazards which will require landlords to resolve, including defective or no working smoke alarms, rare fruiting bodies (fungus) growing from a roof, no fire safety measures, dangerous electrics, unsafe stairs and no heating in some rooms.

Two women in their 20s were safeguarded and were able to speak with Brighter Futures Adult Sex Workers Service who identified several support needs.

The women will now be supported to access the services needed, as well as providing a safe link to report any concerns to.

The action was part of Operation Aidant, a national operation into vulnerability, exploitation and modern day slavery.

Detective Inspector Lindon Evans said: "Modern slavery and human trafficking affects every community in every area of the UK. Staffordshire Police works with a range of partners in the public, private and voluntary sector to identify and safeguard victims.

"The public plays a key role in helping to tackle modern slavery and labour exploitation. Suspicions should be reported to the Modern Slavery Helpline, local police on 101, or 999 in an emergency."

Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader Abi Brown said: "Modern slavery and human trafficking can have no place in our communities in Stoke-on-Trent.

"We are committed to working with partners to tackle this crime and safeguard our residents."

Councillor Randy Conteh, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: "Housing officers took part in this operation and found significant hazards in the properties they visited.

"Stoke-on-Trent residents should not have to suffer sub-standard housing conditions and the landlords of these properties must now carry out improvement works."

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