Men freed after 'slavery' raids in Bristol area

media captionCh Supt Julian Moss: "We are supporting three people we found on the sites we visited"

Three men, all believed to be victims of slavery, have been rescued following a series of raids in the Bristol area.

Eight properties were raided following an investigation into forced labour and human trafficking by Avon and Somerset Police and partner agencies.

Two people have been arrested on suspicion of slavery offences.

A spokesman said a significant quantity of money was also seized in the raids, which were codenamed Operation Wanderer.

'Statement of intent'

The raids were carried out at three travellers' sites near Bristol - Northwood Park in Winterbourne, Tall Trees in Almondsbury and Green Orchard in Easter Compton.

A farm in Yeovil, a house in Kingswood and a residential property in Redland were also raided in the operation.

Police said five other people were also arrested on suspicion of offences including cannabis production, money laundering and handling stolen goods.

The investigation was launched at the start of November after an intelligence operation by CID officers.

Ch Supt Julian Moss, head of CID, said: "This is an ongoing and dynamic inquiry - our primary aim is to safeguard and protect vulnerable victims.

"Some of those affected will not view themselves as victims and, even if they do, may have been unable to speak to the police or any other authorities for a variety of reasons.

"Today's operation is a very visible statement of our intent to protect people from this type of exploitation."

South Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, the National Crime Agency and specialist charities, such as anti-trafficking organisation Unseen and the Red Cross have all been involved in the operation.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said the operation "clearly highlights the unacceptable and illegal crime of human trafficking".

"It shows that modern slavery is happening around us and I am pleased that the police, local authorities, and Unseen UK have worked together to tackle and disrupt this abhorrent network of criminality," she said.

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