Four arrests after a factory raid in Gateshead

25 April 2019, 07:19 | Updated: 25 April 2019, 07:21

Police

Four people have been arrested after a raid on a factory in Gateshead as part of an investigation into modern day slavery.

Northumbria Police revealed that they raided the premises after getting reports about the welfare of staff working there.

The force said that around 90 employees will be spoken to by officers to try and find out if they are victims of exploitation.

The British Red Cross has also said it is providing support to any employees evacuated following the operation.

Four men, aged 29, 40, 41 and 42, have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Modern Day Slavery Act and are in police custody.

Inspector Michael Robson, of the Gateshead Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "This has been a significant operation and now we will take time to speak to all the employees at factory to establish if any criminal offences have been committed.

"It is possible that up to 90 victims of exploitation and modern day slavery may have been safeguarded thanks to some great work between police and partners.

"That is a huge positive and emphasises the fact the safeguarding vulnerable people is our top priority here in Northumbria Police."

He added: "I have no doubt that residents in Gateshead will be shocked to hear about suspected slavery offences on their doorstep but this type of offending does exist.

"There are individuals out there who are trafficking workers into this country and exploiting them for their own financial benefit and we will work hard to put that to a stop."

British Red Cross operations manager for emergency response in the North of England, Robert Colburn, said: "The Red Cross has been asked by Gateshead Council and Northumbria Police to provide practical and emotional support to anyone evacuated as a result of this operation, in a place of safety.

"Our trained staff and volunteers have been on hand to provide emotional support, as well as practical necessities such as clothing, refreshments and first aid.

"The Red Cross works alongside emergency services across the UK to help those in crisis."