Seven possible victims of human trafficking including children were safeguarded during a multi-agency operation in north west London.
An investigation was launched by police after concerns about certain individuals that were employed in various barber shops in North West London were raised.
Seven people were rescued in total including five adults and two children. The people who were found inside the addresses, were identified as potential victims of human trafficking police have said.
The operation involved more than 100 people in total, including 70 officers from across the MPS, immigration services, Barnet, Brent, Harrow Council, social services, the NHS, and a range of charities that help support victims in these circumstances.
After being found, the potential victims received support by specially trained officers and escorted to a nearby reception centre. The police have confirmed that no arrests were made in the operation.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers, from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime, said: “I am pleased with the results of this multi-agency operation which was launched to safeguard vulnerable individuals, identify perpetrators of crime and ultimately protect the public.
“Human trafficking, modern slavery and sexual exploitation often occur in plain sight, and it is often the case those carrying out these offences exploit those from less fortunate backgrounds who have travelled to our county for a better life. They prey on the knowledge these individuals will carry out hard, labour-intensive work to provide for themselves.
“The Met is entirely committed to tackling these crimes and protecting the most vulnerable of people in our communities. We will continue to work closely with our partners as we have on this particular operation, to target those involved in this criminality and prevent them from exploiting innocent individuals any further.
“I hope this operation continues to raise the public’s awareness of these shocking crimes, and sends a clear message to those involved that we will work with all agencies and law enforcement to identify and bring them to justice.”
Councillor Daniel Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “I am very glad that we were able to provide support to the Met police’s operation which identified a number of people who were potentially the victims of human trafficking.
“We will continue to work very closely with the police to ensure we do all we can to assist them in their efforts to tackle the issue of exploitation.”
A spokesperson for Harrow Council said: “Exploitation is a sickening crime that takes away the victim’s freedoms and puts them in danger – all for greed and profit making. We are pleased this multi-agency operation led by the police has helped vulnerable people who were potentially being victims of trafficking or modern day slavery.
“These crimes can happen in plain sight within the community but aren’t easy to pick up signs – it’s a hidden problem that we must not turn a blind eye to. We’ll continue to work closely with the police and our partners to ensure tough action is taken against those operating like this and that the right support is offered to victims.”