Gillingham man arrested over Medway human trafficking

A man has been arrested over the alleged exploitation of Slovakian nationals in the Medway Towns.

The 35-year-old, from Gillingham, is being held in custody on suspicion of people trafficking and money laundering, Kent Police said.

It comes after warrants were executed at addresses in Windsor Road and Richmond Road in Gillingham earlier.

Seven people have been taken to a reception centre that offers support to victims.

A force spokesman said the action followed a multi-agency investigation into claims workers were being forced to live in squalid conditions and threatened with violence if they failed to comply with their supervisor's instructions.

They were working in a number of different industries, including the food industry, he said.

Det Sgt Susan Marsden, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Extensive intelligence work and reports from the community suggests Slovakian migrants are being lured into the country with offers of work, accommodation and prosperity.

"However, the reality is they are being forced into living in squalid conditions and having their lives controlled by those that had promised so much and are now profiting from their labour."

She said victims were typically being asked to work two jobs, often up to 60 hours a week, receiving a nominal wage of £10 to £15 with the supervisors pocketing the rest of the money.

The raid was executed with support from by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, the UK Human Trafficking Centre, HMRC, the Red Cross and the Department for Work and Pensions.

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