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Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
modern slavery

Man arrested in Belfast under suspicion of human trafficking for purposes of domestic servitude

A 25-year-old woman was also arrested today in Scotland as part of the operation.

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland have arrested a man in Belfast under suspicion of human trafficking offences for the purposes of domestic servitude.

The 33-year-old man was arrested in east Belfast earlier today, police said. A search was carried out at a property and a number of pieces of documentation and mobile phones were seized.

A 25-year-old woman was also arrested today in Scotland as part of the operation and is being brought back to Northern Ireland for questioning.

Detective inspector Mark Bell, heard of the PSNI’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) said the arrests were part of “a protracted investigation into human trafficking for domestic servitude in Northern Ireland which has been going on for over a year” and that they were the first arrests of their kind. 

“Modern slavery is often an unseen crime as victims can be afraid to speak out or may be being held captive and human trafficking for the purposes of domestic servitude can be particularly difficult to detect,” he said. 

“Victims may be afraid to speak out so we need the public to be aware of the signs to look for so that they don’t miss the opportunity to intervene in a modern slavery incident.

Is there always someone else speaking for a person on their behalf? Do people have access to their money, identity documents and freedom of movement?

Bell said that during the last year his team had investigated 59 potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. He asked the public to be vigilant to potential human trafficking. 

“It can be hard to believe that modern slavery and human trafficking exists today but it is all too real, especially for the victims,” he said.

Modern slavery is unacceptable as it violates human rights and denies victims their rights to life, freedom and safety. The criminals prey on vulnerable people, control them by fear and exploit them for their own selfish gains.

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