Chapter Nine – The Future (Catching a Criminal Series Two)

It is now more than two years on from
the launch of Derbyshire’s biggest ever human trafficking investigation and the
success of the operation has transformed the way the force deals with this type
of crime. It led to the creation of a dedicated modern slavery and human
trafficking unit, equipped with the expertise, skills and contacts to make
sure that everyone who is a victim is given the best possible help and support,
and that prosecuting offenders is swift. The operation has a legacy that will
shape that work for years, and one which came about from one simple 999 call. The whole of this operation really came about from a very simple incident reported into the police, something totally unrelated to modern slavery and
human trafficking, responded to by a local policing team. They went to several
addresses and very quickly pieced together through all the learning and
all the training that they’ve had, very quickly pieced together a situation that didn’t stack up – something that was out of the ordinary. They pieced it together,
they knew something wasn’t right and they put a report into CID. So it’s
something very simple, just a simple report, that can spin off into a huge international operation. That international operation included 30
return flights between the UK, Latvia and The Hague, 11 arrests, 36 hours of suspect
interviews, 496 pages of interview transcripts, more than 14,000 pages of
evidence produced for the file case and 28 victim saved from exploitation. It may
not have happened if a concerned member of the public had not picked up the
phone and called the police, and Carl hopes that one of Operation Doubrava’s legacies will be encouraging more people to do the same. It might not necessarily
be a call in to the police that can kick-start off something like this. It
could be something that a member of the public sees, maybe somebody being
exploited at a car wash, they might see somebody on the street that’s down on
their luck – it could be anything. There are many, many warning signs for victims
of modern slavery. If something doesn’t look right then it probably isn’t and it doesn’t
hurt to pick up the phone and call the police. Nobody will ever be
criticised for making a report. It could be the one phone call from a member of
the public or another agency anywhere else that safeguards multiple victims and
stops this criminality and other people been subjected to it in the future. If this was organised crime as we thought we knew it, we’d do exactly the same. We would investigate it. Because when you start to look at it in detail, that all
impacts upon the communities what people live in. So you’ve got victims
within that community and it will be throughout Derbyshire, it will be
throughout the region, it will be nationally, you know around there, but
it’s around tackling that vulnerability and it’s about making people safe.
There’s no ‘we’re doing it because they’re from Latvia’… we would do exactly
the same if they were from Normanton. We would do exactly the same if they were
from the north of the county. We tackle the vulnerability and that’s why we
should do it. If people understood where modern slavery is, would they actually
have a difference of opinion? If they knew that Christmas, you know, people have
been enslaved to process their food, that they go and buy off a shelf at several
supermarkets – if they knew that a slave had done that, or somebody who was being
exploited had done that, would they have a difference of opinion? If they thought
when they go and have their car washed that that money wasn’t going to them that
actually cleaned the car and they were living with about ten other people, in a
dump, yeah, and then exploited to come back to work the next morning… and
to us, policing, well even out of policing, on a personal level, it’s about
understanding it because it’s not right People need to look what’s underneath
because I’m sure if they found out what was underneath, those cynics, who think
‘why do we do it’, might change their mind. The case is also
having a positive far-reaching impact in showing other agencies just how critical
joint working with other forces, both home and abroad, can be. Without the
relationship between Derbyshire Constabulary and the Latvian State Police, as
well as other partners such as the National Crime Agency, Operation Doubrava
may not have been as successful. Without international co-operation, I think it’s impossible to fight against trafficking in human beings. As for Latvia, it’s really important to see how your institutions are working with
trafficking cases and to learn from your institutions and get best practice and
this is also what our anti-trafficking unit of the State Police can get your
best practice, knowledge, and how police institutions in the United Kingdom works
with and deals with trafficking cases. So that’s why this co-operation between
countries is really, really important because it helps us, it supports us, and
it facilitates our efforts to catch perpetrators and to assist victims. Now, the team are looking to the future. Operation Doubrava proved that slavery, trafficking and exploitation is still very much alive in the UK today.
It proved that it can happen to anyone and it can be anywhere – even right in the
centre of our communities. And Rick believes that the case sends a clear
message to criminals and would-be exploiters that there are no borders
Derbyshire police will not cross to put them behind bars. For a shire county to pick something
up like this and show that we can go absolutely anywhere to
track you down, to lock you up, to get you into our criminal justice system, to get
you into our prison, we’ll do it. So if there’s people out there, whether that be
UK-based criminality, whether that be international-based criminality, we
can come, we can go, and we can go and get you. And we’ve shown that that happens.
There is no hiding place. There’s none whatsoever. What we do need to do though is, are we serious about tackling that criminality? Because if we are, that’s
where we need to go.

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