At least one man was arrested in relation to modern slavery in Epsom this week during a police operation targeting the heinous practice in the town.
Officers with Surrey Police said they had worked with Home Office representatives in Epsom from Monday (April 26) in a bid to uncover and disrupt labour exploitation practices i.e. modern slavery in the area.
A spokesperson for the county police force said they focused on businesses highlighted to be at particular risk of modern slavery such as car washes and nail bars.
Two people were identified by the taskforce as potential victims of modern slavery, “having been trafficked into the UK, and exploited at various locations,” police said.
“One person has been arrested on suspicion of offences relating to labour exploitation.
“The victims have been safeguarded from further harm,” they added.
Police said they had also “dealt” with four people for immigration offences, though did not specify whether those people were victims or perpetrators of labour exploitation.
This is not the first time that arrests have been made in Epsom in connection to modern slavery.
The Surrey Comet reported in November 2019 the arrest of three women linked with modern slavery offences in the town in what was then described by the authorities as a “growing problem” in Surrey.
The newspaper also spoke with modern slavery expert Jakub Sobik from Anti-Slavery International.
He said that the scale of modern slavery in the UK was “in the tens of thousands”, referencing the National Crime Agency.
“In 2013 the UK government estimated there were around 13,000 people are in modern slavery at any time.
“But that was over five years ago and there is a wide understanding that the numbers are much higher,” Sobik said.