Four people including a woman from Croydon have been arrested by police targeting modern day slavery.
Announcing news of the operation on Sunday (August 22), Kent Police said they had carried out a number of “coordinated search warrants” at several locations in Croydon, Cambridge, Dagenham and Reading.
During the operations officers seized a number of items including “more than 70 phones, three cars, and thousands of pounds in cash” they said “could not be accounted for”.
Four people, including a 26-year-old woman, were also arrested by police, with two so far facing charges.
A statement on the raids published by Kent Police on Sunday read:
“A 40-year-old woman from Cambridge, a 26-year-old woman from Croydon, and two men, one aged 36 from Cambridge and the other aged 37 from Dagenham, were arrested during the operation.
Detectives believe the mobile phones were being used to run brothels in Kent and further afield. As such, officers carried out a number of other visits to ensure any vulnerable people were identified and safeguarded.”
The two people now facing charges were Lina Wang, 40, from Cambridge and Chung Fu Wang, 37, from Dagenham, charged with conspiracy to control prostitution for gain. Lina Wang was also charged with money laundering.
They both appeared at Medway Magistrates’ Court on Friday and are next due to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on September 17.
The two other people arrested, including the 26-year-old woman from Croydon, have not been charged but Kent Police said they “remain under investigation”.
We have arrested four people from #Cambridge, #Croydon, #Dagenham and #Reading as part of an investigation into modern slavery and human trafficking offences. Read the full details here… https://t.co/rbAvf1jX5C
— Kent Police (UK) (@kent_police) August 22, 2021
The news highlighted the persistence of slavery in London and across the UK, almost 200 years after its official abolition in 1833.
The number of slavery victims in London alone is thought to have risen “ten fold in five years” according to a report out last year.
Newsquest South London spoke previously with modern slavery expert Jakub Sobik from Anti-Slavery International.
He said that the scale of modern slavery in the UK was “in the tens of thousands”, referencing the National Crime Agency.
“In 2013 the UK government estimated there were around 13,000 people are in modern slavery at any time.
“But that was several years ago and there is a wide understanding that the numbers are much higher,” he said, adding the following:
“Because modern slavery is underground and that makes it much more difficult to tackle.
“Poverty and discrimination are involved. For example, migrants coming to the UK and working illegally without a network of support are easy targets who can be taken advantage of.
“Especially if they know that coming forward to the authorities means they will be criminalized for working illegally and for their immigration — that plays into the hands of traffickers.
“Victims are being treated as criminals way too often and not being given the support they need.”
For more information about modern slavery, click here, or if needed call the Modern Slavery Helpline anonymously on 08000 121 700.