Police Scotland carried out a multi-agency day of action on Thursday, 7 November 2019, in response to reports of concern of overcrowding, houses of multiple occupancy, and potential victims of crime including exploitation and human trafficking in Fife.
Over a hundred officers from Police Scotland, Fife Council, UK Border Agency and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority were supported by charities and other third sector partners.
Ten addresses in Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Rosyth, Cupar and Freuchie were visited where intelligence had suggested there could be multiple people living, or concerns regarding the safety and wellbeing of individuals.
In total 38 adults were interviewed and provided information via voluntary questionnaire to police and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. A total of 12 children were found to be living across the addresses also.
Officers from Fife Council worked to address and investigate housing concerns, with the majority of occupants remaining in their current houses.
In three addresses, the electricity supply was found to have been bypassed which was rectified by the relevant electricity supplier, with police inquiries continuing into this.
Detective Chief Inspector Scott Cunningham of Fife Police Division, said:
“The focus of our activity was very much on ensuring the welfare and safety of individuals living and working in Fife. This was not enforcement action; rather we were working to identify any hidden harm.
“Working with partners, we visited several addresses where concerns had been raised for the occupants, or where intelligence suggested there could be potential individuals at risk of exploitation or subject to human trafficking.
“A voluntary interview was then carried out with those individuals identified, in conjunction with the relevant partners, so that we could ensure they were safe and well. A reception centre in Glenrothes was set up so that advice and assistance could be given to those who required it, with interpretation service available so that everyone could engage with the relevant services appropriately.
“We understand that human exploitation and trafficking is extremely emotive and, where criminality is identified, we will always conduct a thorough and robust investigation in conjunction with international law enforcement and other agencies to stop this from happening and seek justice for victims.
“We all have a role to play in identifying and protecting those at risk of harm. I would ask the public to be aware of their neighbours, colleagues, premises and businesses they visit, and to report concerns for anyone they may think is at risk of harm, exploitation or a potential victim of human trafficking so that we can address these appropriately.”
Police Scotland works with support agencies to ensure that all victims of trafficking identified are provided with help and support.