New C4 documentary follows covert police human trafficking investigation in the South West

New C4 documentary follows covert police human trafficking investigation in the South West

A brand new Channel 4 documentary series launching tonight (19 July) gives viewers a rare insight into the covert police tactics used by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) as they investigate a human trafficking gang making huge profits exploiting vulnerable women as sex workers in Cheltenham.

Filmed over three years, with crews embedded with the SW ROCU’s teams, the series highlights the challenges of securing convictions for human trafficking cases and exposes the control, danger and violence faced by victims day in, day out as they fund the luxury lifestyles of the criminals exploiting them.

Head of the SW ROCU Detective Superintendent Tina Robinson said: “The access we’ve given will undoubtedly open people’s eyes to the work we do, alongside Gloucestershire Constabulary and our other regional forces, to gather evidence and secure convictions in highly complex cases.

“Significantly, this case started with safeguarding visits carried out by neighbourhood officers in Gloucestershire, which led to an anonymous intelligence package being dropped off at a local police station.  It’s a powerful demonstration of how work at that community level to build trust with potential victims can generate the initial intelligence we need – as well as our determination to get such victims justice and prevent further exploitation.”

Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Mackie, Lead for Modern Slavery at Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: “Human trafficking is an insidious crime that stretches far and wide and this documentary will hopefully make people think and take a second look at activity that could be happening in their own communities.

“The signs of sexual exploitation can include a person seeming withdrawn, scared or intimidated, being closely guarded, having marks such as cigarette burns that indicate physical abuse, tattoos related to ownership or a limited English vocabulary, restricted to sexualised words. Properties used for exploitation may have letterboxes or doors sealed off from the inside.

“We would ask people to be vigilant and report any concerns. This can be done directly to police or anonymously to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Episode one of ‘TAKEN: Hunting the Sex Traffickers’ goes out on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday (19 July).  All episodes will be available to stream on All 4 afterwards.

The series was directed by BAFTA award winner Peter Beard from Story Films and was filmed in the UK, Brazil and Europe.