Six arrests following trafficking raids

14 May 2013

New Scotland Yard

Officers investigating a trafficking and forced prostitution ring based in Kensington and Chelsea have arrested six people today, Tuesday 14 May, and seized thousands of pounds in cash.

At approximately 0700hrs this morning, detectives from the MPS Human Trafficking and Prostitution Unit, assisted by Safer Neighbourhoods and Home Office immigration officers conducted search warrants at 13 addresses.

"I urge other victims of trafficking to phone our hotline."

These include a block of nine flats believed to have been run as a brothel by the gang. Officers have seized around £60,000 cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act and searches are ongoing.

Following the raids, a number of rescued women, believed to have been forced into prostitution, were taken to a care centre to receive the support they need.

Five people were arrested on trafficking, controlling prostitution and money laundering offences. These were:

[A] a 44-year-old woman from Fulham;
[B] a 31-year-old woman from Fulham;
[C] a 27-year-old man from Palmers Green;
[D] a 30-year-old woman from Palmers Green;
[E] a 33-year-old woman from Chelsea.

The sixth person - [F] a 37-year-old man from Beckton - was arrested in Essex ahead of the operation, at approximately 0500hrs this morning.

It is believed the gang convinced women in Eastern Europe that they would be given administrative jobs in the UK. However, once brought into the country they were forced to work as prostitutes at addresses in Kensington and Chelsea.

All six are currently in custody at a west London police station.

This is the first police operation carried out under the European Communities Against Trafficking (ECAT) Project. ECAT is a two-year programme launched in February this year and part-funded by a European Commission grant, which sees the MPS work with councils and charitable organisations to tackle trafficking, assist victims and raise awareness of the issue.

DI Kevin Hyland of the MPS Human Trafficking and Prostitution Unit, said: "Today we have targeted an organised group of criminals who have been profiting from the abuse of scores of women.

"This operation is in part a result of victims having the courage to come forward about the abuse they are suffering. I urge other victims of trafficking to phone our hotline where we have translators and specially trained staff awaiting their call. "

Victims of trafficking and prostitution are urged to call the MPS's 24-hour helpline, open seven days a week, on 0800 7832589.