Trafficking operation leads to 13 arrests
Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with alleged human trafficking in North East England.
Police searched eight addresses in Newcastle, Consett in County Durham and Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland.
Two men and two women, who are believed to be victims of exploitation, are being offered support.
The operation involved officers from Northumbria Police, the National Crime Agency and staff from Newcastle City Council and the British Red Cross.
Eight men and five women who were arrested on suspicion of trafficking people into the UK for exploitation are being questioned.
'Root out barbarism'
Det Supt Steve Barron of Northumbria Police, said: "This is part of an intelligence led policing response to a problem that is becoming more apparent across Europe and it is important that we are robust in our efforts to tackle this type of crime.
"The four victims identified today have now been taken to places of safety so they can be supported by specialists from partner agencies and our officers.
"Officers are conducting reassurance patrols in the areas where the search warrants have been carried out to keep them informed about the activity in this area."
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes, added: "Some might find it hard to believe that in the 21st Century we still have slavery, and it is all the more shocking to think that is happening right here in Newcastle.
"The council stands committed to tackling slavery and all forms of human trafficking which is why we have set up a reception centre to house the victims of this abhorrent crime. We will assess their housing and social care needs and put in place support to help them put their lives back together again.
"I would urge anyone who suspects that someone is being exploited in this way to contact the police and help us root out this barbarism."