Police have recorded a massive rise in the number of modern slavery cases across Lincolnshire but vow to tackle the ‘barbaric and despicable’ crime.
The force has now revealed the number of victims – which rose from 31 in 2017, to 51 in 2018 – now looks set to break the 200 barrier this year, with 170 victims identified so far.
Officials say they are working tirelessly to stamp out the worrying increase, which makes for uncomfortable reading two years after a shocking modern slavery case in Lincolnshire made headlines across the country.
Eleven members of a traveller family, the Rooney’s, were caged for a combined total of nearly 80 years for forcing vulnerable people to work or cheating residents out of their property.
Many of the Rooneys’ 18 victims, who were aged between 18 and 63, had learning disabilities or mental health issues, or were dependent on alcohol or drugs.
One man was made to dig his own grave and threatened with a lifetime of servitude to the Rooneys.
The trials of the Rooney family, who lived in Drinsey Nook, Saxilby and Lincoln, took place from late 2016 through to 2018.
Among family members jailed included the head of the family Martin Rooney was jailed for 10 years and nine months, his twin sons John and Patrick Rooney were sentenced to 15 years in prison – a further eight of their relatives were handed jailed for periods of up to seven years.
Overall, criminal benefits of £4,174,827.54 have been identified and confiscation orders for £1,083,403.61 were made by police – some of the funds recovered will go towards compensating their victims.
The counties police and crime commissioner Marc Jones, speaking at a Modern Slavery conference this week in Grantham, said: “Modern slavery and the exploitation of the vulnerable is a barbaric and despicable crime that is not just a criminal act but a violation of our humanity.
“To subject other human beings, children amongst them, to this level of degradation, cruelty and abuse is abhorrent and our communities must do everything we can to put an end to these horrific offenses.
“Often businesses can be an unwitting victims of the gang masters peddling this foul trade and they should be properly equipped to protect themselves.
Also speaking at the conference Sgt Will Tharby revealed that UK citizens represented the third highest number of victims, with Albania and Vietnam topping the list.
Many people young men were using Facebook to contact vulnerable women, luring them into a relationship before persuading them to turn tricks because they were broke.
In many cases the men using these “romance scams” had conned several women into prostitution and were running all of them as a business.
Two victims of just such a scam have recently been discovered in Boston.
- Martin Rooney, sentenced to 10 years and nine months in jail. Criminal benefit: £315,104.97 Confiscation order: £84,651.74
- Bridget Rooney, sentenced to 7 years in jail. Criminal benefit: £367,301.37 Confiscation order: £94,429.01
- Patrick Rooney, sentenced to 15 years and nine months in jail. Criminal benefit: £936,377.85 Confiscation order: £438,514.72
- John Rooney, sentenced to 15 years and six months in jail. Criminal benefit: £1,408,542.32 Confiscation order: £152,591.25
- Martin Rooney, sentenced to six years and nine months in jail. Criminal benefit: £18,707.90 Confiscation order: £440
- Peter Doran, sentenced to six years in jail. Criminal benefit: £181,109.77 Confiscation order: £9,750
- John Rooney, sentenced to five years and ten months in jail. Criminal benefit: £207
- Lawrence Rooney, sentenced to six years in jail. Criminal benefit: £191,605.61 Confiscation order: £11,681.01
- Gerry Rooney, sentenced to six years in jail. Criminal benefit: £14,155.05 Confiscation order: £12,661.45
- Joseph Rooney, sentenced to 11 years in jail. Criminal benefit: £31,263.42 Confiscation order: £11,652.36
- Martin Rooney, given a two year suspended sentence. Criminal benefit: £396,518.36 Confiscation order: £184,000
- Patrick Rooney, given a 12 month suspended sentence. Criminal benefit: £106,895.32 Confiscation order: £60,968.85