GLOUCESTERSHIRE Police has been playing its part in the fight against modern slavery.

They participated in the eighth European-wide operation aimed at clamping down on criminals who travel abroad to commit crime.

Operation Trivium, organised by TISPOL (the European Traffic Police Network), aims to ensure that borders are no barriers to justice. It started in 2013 and has already resulted in over 350 arrests.

The type of offences targeted range from human trafficking, which may include forced labour or sexual exploitation, to distraction thefts from vulnerable people at supermarkets and road related offences.

Last week, officers worked with Trading Standards officers to clamp down on rogue traders.

Yesterday officers were joined by the Home Office Immigration Enforcement team to visit a number of car washes in the Gloucester and Cheltenham areas.

Nationally, some car washes have been used in the past as bases for forced labour.

Inspector Stephen Norris explains the aim of the operation: "These were intelligence-led visits primarily to ensure the staff aren't being exploited and all necessary documentation is in place.

"An employer can face a fine of up to £20,000 if they have breached the rules in this area.

"If we believe someone has been held in servitude we will take them out of the situation and give them all the necessary support.

"During all visits we will also give advice and guidance should staff know someone who may be the victim of modern day slavery.

"If we do not believe they have been held in servitude but they are committing an immigration offence we will hand them over the immigration services."

Two people at two separate car washes in Cheltenham were dealt with in this way yesterday.

Another part of the operation this week saw searches carried out for several outstanding offenders although the suspects were not traced.

Detective Superintendent Paul Keasey said: "This national operation includes partners from right across the law enforcement spectrum – from our colleagues at HMIC and the Home Office Immigration Enforcement team in this country to police officers from across Europe – including the Netherlands, Romania, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Europol.

"This is an operation that highlights truly great partnership working amongst all European countries.

"If our officers stop someone they can radio in and all the necessary checks can be made at the same time.

"If the person is wanted for anything we can take the relevant action.

"This operation is in addition to our business as usual - keeping the county as safe a place as possible to live, work and visit.

"We are of course dedicated to pursuing any individuals who commit crime."

Some figures about previous Operation Trivium operations:

• 9,009 vehicles stopped

• 509 vehicles seized

• 12,556 people encountered, with 361 arrests

• 7188 enforcement actions

• 529 intelligence reports submitted

More information on modern slavery can be found here.