Unique Conviction on Human Trafficking in the UK

Three men jailed for human trafficking in victimless prosecution

THREE men have been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison at Preston Crown Court (Thursday 9 March 2017) in an East Lancashire modern slavery case.

Ionut Stan, 32 (25/05/1984), of Accrington Road, Blackburn pleaded guilty to facilitating the travel of a Romanian woman with a view to her being sexually exploited and was sentenced to 2 years 4 months in prison.

Cristian Stan, 31 (23/11/1985), of Accrington Road, Blackburn pleaded guilty to facilitating the travel of a Romanian woman with a view to her being sexually exploited and was sentenced to 3 years 2 months in prison.

Cristian Vasile, 34 (29/12/1982), of NFA pleaded guilty to facilitating the travel of two Romanian women with a view to them being sexually exploited. He also pleaded guilty to keeping a brothel used for prostitution, and causing prostitution for gain. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Officers raided the address on Accrington Road, Blackburn, on Wednesday 11 May 2016 as part of an on-going investigation.

Two women in their twenties were found inside and were suspected of being trafficked to the UK from Romania. Safeguarding and welfare issues were addressed, but the women refused to make any complaints against the men, and did not identify themselves as being victims.

Brothers Ionut and Cristian Stan, and the third man Cristian Vasile, were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and later charged.

Officers working under Op Proteus, a dedicated team working to identify both the victims and perpetrators of trafficking and slavery across Lancashire, uncovered that the Stan brothers had trafficked the women from Romania. Once at the address in Blackburn they arranged for the women to be sexually exploited as prostitutes for their own financial gain.

Meanwhile Vasile was found to be the ring leader behind the trafficking and the exploitation, setting up advertising accounts on websites offering services from the women, arranging the wording, photographs and the payments.

DS Tony Atkins from Lancashire's modern slavery and human trafficking unit, said: "This was both a complex and challenging investigation, but through dedication, tenacity and close working with the CPS we have secured this fantastic result, one of the first we think under the Modern Slavery Act without victims supporting the prosecution.

"These men are dangerous criminals who have no thought or consideration for their victims. These sentences send out a strong message to the criminals who are exploiting vulnerable people who are too afraid or have been conditioned to believe they are not victims. If you are committing this type of crime, we can and will gather the evidence of your criminality and successfully prosecute you even without a victim complaint."

DCI Sion Hall, one of the force leads on tackling modern slavery, said: "We have dedicated officers working hard to remove this type of threat from our communities and we will continue to do everything we can to help tackle this awful crime. In Lancashire we are committed to rooting out those individuals who choose to exploit others.

"Anyone who suspects that someone could be the victim of modern slavery or has suspicions about a perpetrator can share information anonymously through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or with police on 101. We would urge you to look closer, modern slavery could be happening right in front of you – whether that's in nail bars, car washes, rural businesses, brothels, massage parlours, or a property in your neighbourhood."

Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: "Securing this conviction and taking these dangerous men off the streets is a testament to the excellent work done by Lancashire officers in uncovering this often hidden crime. Victims of trafficking or modern slavery are often scared to come forward for fear of reprisals so to get this result without the victims' co-operation shows the determination and professionalism of the team.

"These crimes are a growing area of demand for the police here in Lancashire which is why I have funded dedicated officer posts to support these investigations. This is vital work and I remain committed to ensuring that the police have the resources to tackle criminal groups like this head on. If you see anything suspicious and want to report it then please contact 101 or Crimestoppers and report your concerns."

There is also a national Modern Slavery Helpline offering confidential help and advice, you can also report information to them on 08000 121 700.



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