Police and Doncaster airport staff have run an operation to help crackdown on secret slavery in South Yorkshire.
They spent a day on the lookout for possible slaves arriving in the UK on flights into Doncaster, amid concerns that there could be a hidden slavery problem in the county.
Officers from South Yorkshire Police’s Anti-Slavery Unit worked with Doncaster Sheffield Airport staff on an operation aimed at identifying and protecting vulnerable people at risk of exploitation. They spoke to young women and some men arriving on flights from Poland, Romania and Slovakia to warn them of the dangers of sexual exploitation and forced labour.
Detective Sergeant Nikki Leach, who runs the Anti-Slavery Unit, said: “We spoke to a total of 24 women, who were arriving on flights from countries including Poland, Romania and Slovakia. These women were either travelling alone or in pairs and, often, this is the first time they have visited the country. “The in-depth intelligence picture the team has built up suggests that often these women can be vulnerable to sexual exploitation. “We sometimes see young women being brought into this country under false pretences, with the promise of work and an improved quality of life. However, unfortunately there are some people who then sexually exploit these women in brothels for example, taking advantage of their vulnerability. “Our priority is protecting these potentially vulnerable women to ensure that they are not forced in to sexual exploitation.
“We also spoke to two men about the dangers and risk of potential labour exploitation, which sadly is also happening across South Yorkshire. “Our aim in the Anti-Slavery Unit, through work alongside partners, is to identify these individuals, protect them and apprehend the offenders who take advantage of vulnerable people.
“Modern day slavery is still very much a hidden issue across South Yorkshire, however we are working hard to uncover it and slowly, through engagement, intelligence reports and raising awareness, we are continuing to do just that."
Steve Gill, chief executive of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: 'We were pleased to work alongside colleagues from South Yorkshire Policy Anti-Slavery Unit and a number of other organisations to support this extremely important operation.
“We work closely with our local police team and other local partners to support their awareness raising campaigns.”