New crackdown on sex slave trade

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A new campaign against criminals who force trafficked women into the sex trade will be launched today.

All 55 police forces in the UK and the Republic of Ireland will take part in the project, named as Pentameter 2 after a successful operation which took place last year.

Pentameter's initial four month campaign led to more than 200 arrests and rescued children as young as 14 who had been forced into sex slavery.

Officers executed warrants in 515 brothels, massage parlours, private homes and other premises during the previous project.

More than 80 women and girls were rescued - about half from a range of eastern European countries and rest from the Far East, Africa and South America.

A permanent unit, the UK Human Trafficking Centre, was set up in the wake of the first Pentameter operation, bringing together police, prosecutors and officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Gloucestershire Chief Constable and Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesman Dr Tim Brain said at the first Pentameter launch that punters who reported possible cases to Crimestoppers would not face prosecution.

The Crown Prosecution Service revealed last summer that "slave auctions" of women for prostitution were taking place on the concourses of British airports.

Brothel keepers were bidding for women as soon as they arrived on UK soil.