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Police rescue 72 children and 27 adults in UK in Europe-wide crackdown on human trafficking

Police rescue 72 children and 27 adults in UK in


Police rescue 72 children and 27 adults in UK in Europe-wide crackdown on human trafficking as 38 suspects are arrested for crimes including drugs and sexual exploitation

  • Investigations targeted the Underground, a suspected brothel in east London
  • Probe involved 19 police forces from across the UK and other security partners
  • Of the detainees, 18 arrested for child criminal and drug-related exploitation










Police have rescued 72 children and 27 adults in the UK as part of a Europe-wide crackdown on human trafficking.  

Officers arrested 38 people for crimes including drugs and sexual exploitation as part of the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) Project Aidant.   

Investigations targeted a variety of settings, including London Underground and a suspected brothel in east London.

The operation was part of an Europe-wide operation, co-ordinated in the UK by the NCA’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit.

Police have rescued 72 children and 27 adults in the UK as part of a Europe-wide crackdown on human trafficking (file photo)

Police have rescued 72 children and 27 adults in the UK as part of a Europe-wide crackdown on human trafficking (file photo)

It involved 19 police forces from across the UK and partners including Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions.

The NCA said that out of those arrested, 18 were for child criminal and drug-related exploitation and 11 were for sexual exploitation.

The remainder of the arrests were for a variety of offences including domestic servitude, labour exploitation and general trafficking.

A total of 99 potential victims were identified through a range of law enforcement activities initiating 51 new investigations, the NCA said.

The agency added that although the activities targeted people exploiting children, a number of adult potential victims were also located. 

The NCA said that in 2020, almost 5,000 children in the UK entered the National Referral Mechanism claiming to be victims of trafficking and exploitation.

The operation involved 19 police forces from across the UK and partners including Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions (file photo)

The operation involved 19 police forces from across the UK and partners including Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions (file photo)

During the operation police presence was increased at London Tube and rail stations where suspected victims of child trafficking were thought to be forced to work as pickpockets.

Officers also searched a suspected brothel in east London and several women were discovered in distressing conditions.

Liam Harrison from the NCA’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit said: ‘This activity, which was months in the making, identified and safeguarded victims of child trafficking and disrupted those controlling them.

‘Our joint work across the week has also sparked a number of new investigations and it is expected that these results will rise over the coming weeks as our operational activity continues.’

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