Enquiries continue in relation to yesterday’s police incident in Newlyn and Cullompton, where police were called just before 7.10am to Newlyn, following reports that a group of people were seen getting into the back of a van from a boat.
The van and another vehicle were stopped by officers on the M5 near J28 just after 9 am and foreign nationals, believed to be Vietnamese, were located in the van.
Four men have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Modern Day Slavery Act. Three men have been taken into police custody. One of the men has been taken to hospital and remains under police guard.
Enquiries remain ongoing at this time in Newlyn and Cullompton.
Anyone who witnessed the incident and anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting log 93 of Friday 12 April.
A police spokesperson said: “We can confirm that 29 people located in the back of the van are a mix of men, women and children, all believed to be Vietnamese. They currently remain in a specially created centre where they are being taken care of.
“Enquiries continue in relation to the status of these 29 and what actions will follow. In the meantime, we continue to work with partners in relation to their safeguarding and care.”
Police have arrested four men on suspicion of immigration and modern slavery offences including human trafficking linked to this incident.
The suspects are aged 72 from Colne, aged 63 from Kent, aged 62 from Sheerness and aged 55 from Burnley; police have gained custody extensions on all four suspects who await further questioning.
The National Crime Agency, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement and other relevant partner agencies have been informed and are assisting police and enquiries continue.
A spokesman for Devon Children and Families Partnership said: “The UK Government will decide what the next steps will be for these individuals. In the meantime, Devon and Cornwall agencies are supporting the group, and arrangements for temporary accommodation will be made if any of the individuals are under 18 years of age, pending further decision about their status.”
A British Red Cross spokesperson said: “Our volunteers are continuing to support a number of people who are the alleged victims of human trafficking. We are providing them with practical and emotional support at a rest centre while the police conduct their investigations.
“Our volunteers are neutral and impartial and are concerned only with the welfare of the people affected.”