Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner welcomes modern slavery convictions following Met investigation
Four members of an organised crime group based in London, Cambridge and Essex who recruited, trafficked and exploited at least 30 vulnerable teenage girls to commit acts of fraud on their behalf have been convicted of modern slavery and fraud offences.
It is thought that gang members used social media to target vulnerable teenage girls. Most of the victims were living in foster placements or were living apart from their families in semi-independent facilities.
Over a period of two years victims were taken by gang members to retailers across the UK and forced to carry out theft and fraud crimes.
The convictions follow an investigation by the Met’s Predatory Offender Unit beginning in 2020 when children’s services partners contacted the police with safeguarding concerns.
Sentencing will take place between 18 and 22 April at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:
“I welcome the use of the Modern Slavery Act legislation to deal with this serious and substantial exploitation of vulnerable young people. Convicting offenders is an important aspect of delivering justice for victims and can deter and dissuade criminal gangs from perpetrating further abuse.
“As Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner I have expressed concern about the low rate of modern slavery prosecutions and convictions, especially in cases where other offences have been committed. The Modern Slavery Act provides access to a more severe range of sentences and delivers the possibility of imposing a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order, which would protect vulnerable people in the future.
“It is very encouraging to see police and prosecutors using the trafficking legislation rather than opting for lower level offences which might be easier to prove, and the convictions send a strong message about an abhorrent crime.”