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Police targeting modern slavery seize £41,000 from Stansted Airport passenger

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Police seized £41,000 from a Stansted Airport passenger about to board a flight to Turkey in a clampdown on modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT).

Essex Police officers working with Border Force also identified a young man with bruises around his neck as a potential victim of human trafficking after he arrived on a flight from Romania.

The team were concerned he had no money and no means to contact the family member he claimed he was meeting. He was refused entry to the UK and his details were passed to officers in Romania to ensure his safety on his return.

Stansted Airport terminal (53195051)
Stansted Airport terminal (53195051)

The operation was part of Project Aidant, co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency, police forces and other law enforcement agencies across the country. The current focus is on illicit finances.

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Coan, of the Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate, explained: “Project Aidant incorporates weeks of action throughout the year targeting a specific theme around MSHT. It might be sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, labour exploitation or illicit finances.

“All commands across the force come together to look at all the opportunities we have to protect vulnerable people, disrupt illegal activity and catch the criminals responsible.”

Essex Police (53195065)
Essex Police (53195065)

Officers have been targeting major transport hubs, the road network and contacting rural and business communities to alert them to signs of exploitation.

Victims include children manipulated into drug dealing by county lines gangs and men and women lured to the UK and forced into prostitution.

DCI Coan said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking is a crime type we need to understand more about, so that's why we’re driving this activity.

“It’s a hidden harm crime a lot of the time as the victims don’t come forward and it’s difficult to get them to come forward.

“We’re engaging with the community and building trust so we can combat the criminality that perpetrates this crime more effectively.”

It is estimated that modern slavery and human trafficking costs the UK £3.3bn to £4.3bn a year. In the three months from the start of April to the end of June, a total of 3,140 victims of MSHT across the UK were reported through a national referral mechanism.

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