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15 October 2013, 07:15
Nine suspected brothels were raided by police in Birmingham tonight as part of a major operation to identify and protect victims of human trafficking who have been forced into prostitution.
Addresses in Bordesley Green, Hay Mills, Acocks Green, Sheldon and Alum Rock were all targeted by around 40 police officers in the latest phase of Operation Sentinel − a long-running campaign aimed at making vulnerable victims safer, sooner.
Five people were arrested as part of the raids – two men and three women – at an address on Botha Road in Bordesley Green on suspicion of managing brothel.
Several bags of evidence were seized from the terraced house including mobile phones, as well as other paraphernalia relating to prostitution.
Five women were also identified as potential victims of sexual exploitation at several of the properties.
Three addresses on Speedwell Road, Cannon Hill Road and Coventry Road were found to have been recently vacated – but officers discovered evidence that suggested they had recently been used as brothels.
Detective Superintendent Tim Bacon said: "It’s hard to believe that modern day slavery is happening in the West Midlands, but sadly it’s on the increase and we’re determined to put a stop to it.
"Tonight’s action, first and foremost, is about protecting people who more often than not don’t even realise that they are victims. But we’re also sending out a strong message to the traffickers that they’re not going to get away with using our area as a place to commit this appalling abuse."
As part of Operation Sentinel, West Midlands Police is conducting a comprehensive review of the policies and procedures that it has in place to tackle human trafficking.