Bradwell at centre of sex trade crackdown

A BRADWELL cul-de-sac was at the centre of a major police operation aimed at targeting highly organised gangs involved in human trafficking.

Warrants were executed at eight properties across Great Yarmouth and the village of Bradwell, with six arrests , under a major investigation named Operation Feed.

Norfolk police Detective Inspector Rickie Botwright led the raids, which involved 40 officers and was the culmination of 10 months work.

He said: “The focus of our investigation has been to identify young women living in our community who have been subjected to a number of serious sexual assaults.

“Additionally, our aim has been to put a stop to the trafficking of young women. I think today’s arrests will go a long way to achieve our aim.”

The main suspect, a 33-year-old man, was arrested at a property on a quiet residential road in Bradwell for conspiracy to commit offences under the people trafficking act and rape, along with a 23-year-old woman.

The investigation started in December after a Lithuanian woman approached police outside of Norfolk, but was unable to specify where she had been held.

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However, after more women came forward over the summer with similar stories about being duped into the sex trade and forced marriages, Norfolk police were able to focus on Yarmouth.

Det Insp Botwright said that he believed those affected had been lured into the country on promises of jobs and accommodation, and then sold into the sex industry for sums of up to �15,000.

“I went out to Lithuania to understand how these people have the element of control, and what makes the girls so frightened- I think it’s the fear of violence and the fear that their families will be identified.”

The simultaneous raids took place at 9am. As well as the raid in Bradwell, there was a swoop on seven other homes in Cobholm and central Yarmouth, which further resulted in the arrest of three other men, aged 29, 34, and 66, and the 66-year-old male has also been arrested on suspicion of rape.

A 20-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of people trafficking offences and threats to kill.

Det Insp Botwright added that they were still looking for three suspects, and that they would now be interviewing those in custody and seeking charge advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.

At the Bradwell raid, police were joined by TV hard man Ross Kemp as a part of filming for his new series. The former EastEnder was there with film crew to see police make arrests as part of Ross Kemp’s Extreme World, set to be broadcast in January.

Full story in this week’s Great Yarmouth Mercury.

On page two of this week’s Mercury, a story appeared entitled ‘Eight arrests made in sex trafficking enquiry’.

At the bottom of the page were two pictures submitted by a resident featuring homes which were not involved in the raids but showed the presence of TV actor Ross Kemp filming for his new series, and a car being towed away.

We apologise for any distress or embarrassment the printing of the pictures may have caused.