Arrests in Chippenham over forced labour allegations

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The house in Ladyfield Road The house in Ladyfield Road

Four Romanians living in Chippenham are being given support by police investigating allegations of forced labour.

A man and a woman from Ladyfield Road are suspected of conspiring to require another person to perform forced labour.

Residents of the street were startled by a dawn police raid last Thursday which led to the arrest of two 45-year-olds who have since been bailed.

A Criminal Investigation Department (CID) team investigating human trafficking swooped on the terraced house just before 6am.

Neighbours described how, after a two-hour search, officers loaded a CID van and three unmarked cars with several large evidence bags full of files and shoeboxes.

One woman living nearby, who did not want to be named, said: “I was surprised to wake up and see that out my window.

“I saw the police getting into unmarked cars. They were just leaving, it was about 7.55am.”

Another neighbour said: “I got up, it must’ve been 6.30am, and I saw a police van. I had a scout and there were police coming out in black jackets with lots of big see-through bags full of stuff. All seven of the police were carrying two bags each.”

Police are giving assistance to four Romanians believed to be victims – two men and two women, aged between 18 and 24.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “Warrants in relation to suspected human trafficking were executed at addresses in and around the Chippenham area last Thursday morning. Locations included The Causeway, Ladyfield Road and a third address in Yatton Keynell.

“A 45-year-old man and 45-year-old woman were arrested at the address in Ladyfield Road, both on suspicion of conspiring to require another person to perform forced labour.

“Both were taken to Melksham Police Station and have since been released on police bail pending further inquiries. Four individuals, two women and two men, are currently assisting officers with their inquiries.”

Labour is forced when it is performed because of physical or psychological threats, says human rights group Liberty.

The two suspects are due to report back to police in February.

No arrests were made at The Causeway or in Yatton Keynell.

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