Police confirmed this afternoon that a major swoop in Lurgan today was linked to an ongoing multi-agency operation into ‘safeguarding’ issues.
A major operation, started before 6am this morning, involved the PSNI, Immigration Enforcement and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
Eyewitnesses say unmarked vans as well as police cars attended the high intensity operation in Albert Street.
There had been serious allegations of human trafficking, slavery and illegal gangmaster activity in the area in recent months.
Other concerns included claims some of the small terraced houses were crammed full of people living in inhumane conditions.
This afternoon, the PSNI issued a statement saying: “Police officers carried out a safeguarding operation in Lurgan earlier today, Wednesday 28 March.”
Superintendent David Moore said: “The operation, in the Albert Street and Albert Avenue areas, was conducted in conjunction with a number of partner agencies.
“We are currently concluding a number of follow up enquiries but at this time no offences were detected.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Keith Haughian welcomed the intervention by the PSNI and Immigration in Albert Street.
SCllr Haughian said: “Today’s checks by immigration officers and PSNI should give peace of mind to local residents that anyone living in the area is there legally.
“Importantly, it should also ensure that no one is being forced to live in inhumane conditions.
“Allegations of human trafficking, slavery, criminal activity and large numbers of people being asked to live in unsafe conditions have to be examined and today’s actions will hopefully deal with such matters.
“I would call on relevant agencies, including council, to follow this up with more work around building a strong cohesive community.
“There is a serious responsibility on private landlords to ensure their tenants are safe and their houses aren’t being used irresponsibly.
“We in Sinn Féin will be having meetings to ensure this work is treated as a priority.”