A MAN is appearing in court today charged in connection with slavery offences in Southampton.
Officers from Hampshire police carried out a number of raids in the city yesterday in response to concerns about forced labour.
As a result 13 people were taken to a safe location by officers and were being provided assistance by members of the Red Cross.
Police arrested three men and one of them, 29-year-old Lydrunas Zdanevicius, was charged with two counts of knowingly holding another person in slavery or servitude.
He was remanded into custody and is due to appear at Southampton Magistrates' Court today.
Two other men aged 22 and 31 from Southampton have been bailed until June 30, pending further enquiries.
Detective Inspector Phil Scrase ftom Hampshire Constabulary said: "Police in Southampton have responded to reports of individuals working as forced labour robustly.
"This should send a clear message that this activity will not be tolerated and both the police and wider agency partners will take action to protect vulnerable people and bring offenders to justice.
"Anyone who feels they are being exploited or has knowledge of this should feel confident in coming forward to the police or other agencies. "
James Kellam, Crown Advocate for the Complex Casework Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “I have today authorised Hampshire Constabulary to charge Lydrunas Zdanevicius, a Lituanian national with two offences of holding a person in servitude contrary to section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.
"This follows an investigation from the police into reports of individuals being forced to work in unfair conditions and for unfair pay in Southampton.”
A number of agencies were involved in the execution of these warrants or are assisting in the ongoing care of individuals including: the National Crime Agency Human Trafficking Centre, the Salvation Army, Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council, Social Services, and the Crown Prosecution Service.
If you have information that can help with our enquiries, please contact police in confidence on 101 or 999 in an emergency.