Two people have been arrested on suspicion of modern slavery and human trafficking after a member of Royal Surrey County Hospital staff raised concerns for a pregnant patient in the maternity ward last Thursday (16 May).
The nurse became suspicious due to the behaviour of one of the suspects, who was accompanying the pregnant woman from Albania. After securing an interpreter, the woman was given an opportunity to share her own account away from the suspect and further indicators of trafficking were recognised by hospital staff. The nurse then became aware of a second suspect, who she believed was on his way to the hospital and notified police.
Officers arrived shortly after and arrested a 28-year-old woman from Godalming and a 26-year-old man from Reading on suspicion of human trafficking offences. The two have been released from police custody but remain under investigation at this time. The victim has been discharged from hospital and is receiving appropriate care.
We commend the staff at Royal Surrey County Hospital for their vigilance and encourage members of the public to be aware of the signs of modern slavery. Modern slavery is a crime that exploits the most vulnerable people in our society. It’s a crime that people think exists elsewhere but this incident is just one example of many similar offences in Surrey.
Slavery also takes the form of labour exploitation and it’s a crime that is hidden in plain sight. Next time you are at a car wash, think about who’s cleaning your car – nail bars, building sites, domestic work – all these are places where modern slavery can flourish.
It can be difficult to spot the signs but if you have any suspicions please report it. If you have any concerns, please call the 24/7 confidential Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121700, or 999 in an emergency.