Modern slavery visits at Maidstone businesses
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Kent Police has targeted car washes, nail bars, brothels and other premises in Maidstone to raise awareness about modern slavery.
Officers from the town's Community Safety Unit, along with Maidstone Borough Council’s Community Protection Team, visited businesses over a five-day period.
Between Monday 27 September and Friday 1 October 2021, they spoke to managers, employees and anybody else at the establishments, to ensure legislation governing workers' rights was being followed and nobody was a victim of exploitation.
All those present were given the opportunity to speak to police and council representatives privately.
Ten establishments were visited and, as a result of enquiries by local officers, a search warrant was executed at the end of the week at a business and connected accommodation in Sandling Road. Officers seized a quantity of cannabis plants along with cultivation equipment, and three people were arrested in connection with drugs offences.
Inspector Steve Kent said: 'Our teams spoke to 32 people at the various premises to ensure nobody was being exploited or treated inappropriately. We are determined to protect the most vulnerable in our society and it is hoped any potential victims would have had the confidence to speak to us privately while we were there. We will also take appropriate enforcement action when any criminal activity is uncovered.
‘These visits will be repeated on a regular basis to help build our knowledge of who is present, who controls the business and whether any offences are being committed. Finally, I would urge anybody who suspects a brothel has been established in their area, to inform us. This will allow officers to pay a timely visit and identify if any vulnerable people are at the address.’
During the visits, those present received advice about how to spot the signs of human trafficking and modern slavery, and whom to inform.
Maidstone Borough Council Deputy Leader, Jonathan Purle, said: ‘Modern slavery and other organised crimes are often undertaken in plain slight but behind the façade of legitimate business. Our Community Protection Team is working alongside Kent Police and other agencies to identify and disrupt activity that could be harbouring more sinister operations.
'The hope is that these operations will not only uncover any illegal activity, but will also build on our reputation as a partnership who will work together to protect people from exploitation within our borough.’
Anybody who suspects someone may be the victim of modern slavery is urged to report it to Kent Police on 101 or online.