Children Safeguarded In Major Operation

Twenty eight children have been safeguarded as part of a major operation carried out by the Metropolitan Police in east London this morning.

The operation involved potential victims of a Romanian-based Roma gang of child traffickers. There were 103 children and 52 adults present in the 16 addresses in Ilford entered by officers under Operation Norman.

So far, 28 children aged between 3 and 17 have been taken into police protection. Six of the 28 were found at one address alone, and one of the six, a three-year-old boy, was taken immediately to hospital to investigate bruising and facial injuries.

At this same address, three adults were arrested on suspicion of assault and neglect of a child, and are currently being interviewed. Four further adults have been arrested, two for being wanted on warrant and two on suspicion of benefit fraud.

The safeguarded children, all from the Romanian Roma community, will now be assessed by multi-agency experts in child protection.

The assessment process examines the welfare of each child and will seek to identify if the child was subject to exploitation and/or neglect. The circumstances in which each child was found will be examined on a case by case basis with the children being at the centre of this investigation.

Operation Norman was led by the MPS' Operation Golf unit, together with specialist Met child protection and search officers.

Chief Inspector Colin Carswell, of Operation Golf, said: "The aim of today's operation was to safeguard and identify victims, safeguard and identify any 'new' victims not previously identified, secure evidence, arrest suspects, and minimise any community impact that might occur.

"The trafficking and exploitation of children for forced criminality is a gross violation of their human rights. Our primary purpose, in tandem with our expert colleagues from the Specialist Crime Directorate, local authority and health trust, is to ensure these vulnerable children get any professional help they may require to remain safe and free from abuse.”


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