Five arrested ‘for treating fruit pickers like slaves’ in Kent

Five people have been arrested in connection with the alleged exploitation of Romanian fruit workers.

Police raided a property in Chatham, Kent, in the early hours of Friday May 22, Kent Police announced on Thursday. Officers arrested four men aged between 19 and 39 and a 41-year-old woman on suspicion of human trafficking and modern slavery offences.

The arrests came as detectives continue an investigation into the alleged exploitation of Romanian fruit workers in Medway. All five have since been released from custody pending further inquiries, police said. A number of identified victims have been taken to a place of safety.

Detective Sergeant Stacey Chapman said: ‘Victims of modern slavery and human trafficking offences are often made to work long hours for very little reward, brought to this country on the promise of a better life but forced to endure terrible living conditions and threatened with violence or deportation if they dare to challenge those responsible.

‘Tackling this type of offending is a priority for Kent Police and we encourage anyone who suspects it may be happening in their town or village to contact us as soon as possible by calling 101 or visiting kent.police.uk.

‘You can also call Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

‘Signs that someone may be held in slavery include them looking malnourished or unkempt, appearing anxious and avoiding eye contact, or living in cramped, dirty and overcrowded accommodation.

‘Human trafficking and modern slavery have no place in a civilised society and we all have a part to play in ensuring it does not go unnoticed.’

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