A MAN was arrested over slavery offences after a police raid at the AA Clock Garage this morning.
Officers carried out the raid at the Ringwood Road premises as part on an investigation into forced labour and human trafficking.
As a result six suspected male victims, aged between 20 and 30 years, were taken to a place of safety and are being given all the help and support they need.
A 23-year-old man from Bournemouth was arrested in connection with slavery offences and has since been released on police bail.
The site is used for car and van sales and a hand car wash centre and has no connection with the Automobile Association.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Connolly, director of investigations, said: “Today’s operation is the result of a detailed and protracted inquiry and our primary aim is to protect and safeguard vulnerable victims.”
Dorset Police was assisted by a number of other partners and agencies, including Bournemouth Borough Council, the National Crime Agency (UK Human Trafficking Centre) and Red Cross to ensure support is in place for the suspected victims.
Detective Superintendent Connolly continued: “Human trafficking is happening up and down the country.
“In such cases victims are often forced to live and work in poor and unsanitary conditions, sometimes with little or no pay. Some may not recognise themselves as victims and, even if they do, they may feel unable to speak to the police or other authorities.
“Human trafficking is a serious offence and Dorset Police remains committed towards tackling such cases.
“Human trafficking, particularly in the form of servitude, is a hidden crime and we will do everything we can to ensure this immoral trade is stopped. In order to do this we also need help from the public.
“I would urge anyone who has any information about such offences in Dorset or concerns about people in their community to contact us in confidence on 101.”
Dorset Police has this year been undergoing further education and awareness training for staff and officers as part of Operation Eagle – a national ACPO campaign against human trafficking and slavery.
Teams were assisted by the National Crime Agency, Bournemouth Borough Council and the Red Cross.
Police officers were seen searching the premises inside and out, including cars and vans on the forecourt and in the road outside.
One local said it was a surprise to see what was going on, as those he had spoken to who had used the garage had no complaints.
Another person living near the garage, who asked not to be named, said: "I pulled open my blinds at 8.30am and saw the activity.
"They keep themselves very much to themselves.
"They come and go. We were on holiday over the summer period and when we came back there was a minibus of them going and the crowd that were there before had gone.
"There's been new ones back and forward.
"They've never bothered the neighbours, but it's deteriorated since it's opened."
Poster campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking in Poole
A poster campaign to raise the public’s awareness of human trafficking in and around Poole was launched earlier this month.
With the support of Borough of Poole Council and Churchill Contract Services, the Soroptimists
of Poole and the Purple Teardrop Campaign have placed posters in all of the town’s public toilets.
On the information sheets, it lists some of the signs to look out for in reference to human trafficking and gives a telephone number to ring for reporting any suspicions that people may have.
For more information, go to purpleteardrop.co.uk
MP presses government to sign EU directive on human trafficking
The mid-Dorset and north Poole MP Annette Brooke spoke in a Westminster Hall debate to call for cooperation to tackle child trafficking and slavery, and pressed the government to sign up to the 2010 EU directive on human trafficking.
The UK and Denmark are the only states not to have opted in to the directive, which provides better protection for trafficking victims and tougher penalties for traffickers.