POLICE will carry out checks at Canvey businesses and homes at least once a month to search for victims of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

Two businesses and two houses on the island were visited by officers from the Castle Point and Rochford community policing team last Thursday under the codename Operation Bagshot.

During the visits, officers spoke with traders and checked over premises’ health and safety regulations but no arrests were made.

Some referrals were made to HM Revenue and Customs for further investigations to be carried out.

Police refused to identify which businesses were visited when asked by the Echo.

PC Ian Risden, from the community policing team, said that police have had no information to suggest anybody is a victim of slavery or human trafficking on the island.

However, officers are proactively searching for any instances of human trafficking which can affect the individuals concerned and the wider community.

He said: “Operation Bagshot is an on-going initiative whereby officers attend businesses as well home private dwellings in company with partner agencies to ensure that people residing or working at the locations are not at risk from human trafficking and modern day slavery, which is sadly becoming more prevalent in our society.

“Upon attendance all persons are spoken to at length and their identities are verified. Both business premises and private dwellings are inspected for health and safety concerns. Where appropriate they may be referred to other agencies for further investigation or action.

“In this case, there were no issues at all and there was no indication that anybody at this time is here illegally or being involved in modern-day slavery.

“This is something that we do regularly and will carry out once a month on Canvey as part of our normal business.”

He asked for people to call in with any concerns of vulnerable people who are being exploited and said: “Essex Police is committed to protecting those that may be at risk of exploitation, whether it is being forced to work for a low wage or in poor conditions or they are being deprived of basic human rights due to their circumstances.

“They may have been trafficked into the United Kingdom and forced to work to pay off a family debt or their travel costs.

“They may simply be used to carry out unskilled, poorly paid labour. In the worst cases females, males and children may be forced into prostitution.”

If you suspect modern day slavery or human trafficking and can provide Essex Police with any information, no matter how minor, please call police urgently on 101.

You can also report any concerns via independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org