West Yorkshire Police takes part in national human trafficking prevention initiative (10 June 2016)

Police in West Yorkshire joined forces with colleagues across the country last week to take part in action to tackle human trafficking.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police's Human Trafficking unit, funded by West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, coordinated with the National Crime Agency as part of an early summer initiative to tackle traffickers and safeguard potential victims.

West Yorkshire detectives coordinated with colleagues from the NCA and police forces in France and Slovakia to secure the arrest of two men on European Arrest Warrants.

A 35-year-old man was arrested in late May on suspicion of Conspiracy To Commit Human Trafficking in Slovakia while a 39-year-old man was arrested for the same offence in France.

Both were arrested in connection with alleged human trafficking offences under investigation in West Yorkshire, and will now face trial at Crown Court.

Meanwhile West Yorkshire officers also liaised with colleagues from South Yorkshire and partners including The Gangmasters Licensing Authority, local charities and volunteers from Huddersfield University to speak with some foreign nationals arriving at a UK airport  on Tuesday 31st May to advise them about the risks of trafficking.

The travellers, who were from Eastern European countries, were advised of warning signs to look for if approached by potential traffickers.

Detective Inspector Andy Leonard of the West Yorkshire Human Trafficking Unit, said: "We have been pleased to take part in this latest NCA week of action, which has seen us work with colleagues nationally and abroad to execute two European Arrest Warrants in connection with an ongoing West Yorkshire investigation.

"I wish to thank colleagues from all partner agencies for their support, particularly in our operation at Robin Hood Doncaster airport over the last week end.

"We found the travellers we spoke to were both interested in and appreciative of the advice we offered and also offered us some useful intelligence to aid our operations."

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I am pleased that West Yorkshire Police, working with partners, took part in this week of action as it is crucial we are all working together to tackle this cruel crime. Partnership working with national partners, including the NCA is essential and is one of the reasons I created a National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network with my fellow PCCs to ensure we take a more strategic approach in tackling the issue.

"We last met in May and have now agreed our Terms of Reference to ensure the network has a real direction. Raising awareness among officers, staff and partners on how to spot and deal with modern slavery crime is a vital step towards increasing the number of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers who need to know they have nowhere to hide and will be dealt with.

"It is also the reason the dedicated Human Trafficking Unit (HTU) was created, only the third of its kind in the country, to target those seeking to traffic people into West Yorkshire. West Yorkshire is leading the way in tackling this crime."

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