Police arrest 46 people in crackdown on foreign criminals

Police arrested 46 people in the first week of Operation Kestrel, which aims to tackle foreign criminals.
Police arrested 46 people in the first week of Operation Kestrel, which aims to tackle foreign criminals.

More than 40 people have been arrested as part of Operation Kestrel - a crackdown on foreign criminals operating in the North East - in its first week.

The operation targets offenders and aims to safeguard vulnerable foreign people targeted by the criminals,

Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan.

Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan.

It involves the region's three police forces, Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland, working with Immigration Enforcement and Border Force, voluntary organisations and local authorities.

The operation was launched last Monday, and in its first week, 46 people were arrested for slavery and immigration offences, and nine vulnerable victims were safeguarded.

A total of 64 premises were visited, 14 warrants carried out, and 623 vehicles searched - with 13 of them uplifted.

Northumbria Police's Assistant Chief Constable Helen McMillan said: "It has been very encouraging to see the fantastic partnership work that has taken place so far as part of Operation Kestrel and I'm pleased with how it is progressing.

"There will be more activity across the region this week as we continue to work together to safeguard vulnerable victims and arrest those responsible."

Activity so far includes:

* 14 people were arrested for slavery offences after nine warrants were carried out and a further five addresses searched in Newcastle.

* Five victims safeguarded as a result of the arrests and taken to a victim reception centre, where they will receive help and support.

* Multi-agency operation in North Shields involving Border Force, Police, NCA, NERSOU checking passengers and freight disembarking a ferry.

* Immigration enforcement have checked for illegal workers at businesses across the North East, including car washes, nail bars, takeaways and restaurants.

An operation on Friday, 21 July, led to six people with no leave being detained and a business being served with a potential financial penalty of up to £80,000 for employing four illegal workers.

* Joint police and immigration visits to safeguard sex workers.

* Assistance has been given to families at risk of being exploited by organised crime groups to return to their home countries.

* Two men were arrested for immigration offences after they were found stowed on a lorry. They will be dealt with by Immigration Enforcement. A juvenile with them has been placed into care.

* A man was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant. He was wanted in Romania for fraud offences and has now been returned there to serve his sentence.