Five quizzed over Green Acres travellers site 'slavery'
Five people are still being questioned by police over the discovery of 24 men suspected of being held against their will at a Bedfordshire traveller site.
Four men and a woman were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of committing slavery offences at Green Acres caravan site in Leighton Buzzard.
The men, some English and some from eastern Europe, were found in "filthy and cramped" conditions, police said.
Detectives believe some may have been there for up to 15 years.
Those arrested, all residents of the caravan park, are being held on suspicion of committing offences under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
End Quote Det Ch Insp Sean O'Neill Bedfordshire Police
They were told they could not leave and if they did they would be beaten up and attacked”
They are being held at police stations across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.Horse boxes
Weapons, drugs and money were also found at the site, police said.
Detectives said they had become aware of 28 people previously making "similar accusations" after investigating the site since 2008.
The raid was launched as part of a long-running investigation by Bedfordshire Police after intelligence a number of men were being held against their will in poor conditions and forced to work for no pay.
The raid on the site, which involved more than 200 police officers and representatives of various agencies including welfare charities, began at 05:30 BST on Sunday.
The 24 men believed to be victims of slavery, were found in sheds and horse boxes, and were taken from the site to a medical centre.
Dozens of police vans remained at the site, which consists of a series of gated properties set off a winding road, until late Sunday afternoon.
Det Ch Insp Sean O'Neil said: "The men we found at the site were in a poor state of physical health and the conditions they were living in were shockingly filthy and cramped.
"We believe that some of them had been living and working there in a state of virtual slavery, some for just a few weeks and others for up to 15 years.
"Because of the number of victims and suspects and the size of the site, we needed the assistance of many officers from specialist units."'Hair cut off'
The major crime unit was assisted by dog sections, helicopter and firearms support, and officers from the UK Human Trafficking Centre.
Mr O'Neil said the men appeared to have been "recruited" from soup kitchens and benefits offices and included people with problems such as alcoholism.
He said: "They're recruited and told if you come here we'll pay you £80 a day, we'll look after you give you board and lodgings.
"But when they get here, their hair is cut off them, they're kept in in some cases [in] horseboxes, dog kennels and old caravans, made to work for no money, given very, very small amounts of food.
"That's the worse case. Some are treated a little bit better but they were told they could not leave and if they did they would be beaten up and attacked.
"But in fact some people did leave and told us what was going on and when we looked back since 2008 we were aware of 28 people who had made similar accusations."
Police have appealed for help and asked anyone with any information to contact them in confidence.