Scottish police have conducted a series of raids in a joint operation into the exploitation of foreign fishing workers in Scotland and the north of England, it was confirmed today.
Officers from Dumfries and Galloway descended on premises in Annan and raids took place on fishing trawlers in Silloth, Cumbria, and Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
Seventeen workers from the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia were found by police during the raids, which are part of an investigation into exploitation of foreign workers in the fishing industry.
The investigation is being run in conjunction with the UK Border Agency, Border Force, the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Marine Scotland.
Chief Superintendent Gary Small said: "I can confirm that we are currently co-ordinating welfare and support arrangements for 17 foreign nationals.
"Given we are at an early stage of a large-scale and complex inquiry, I am not in a position to comment further in relation to the specific nature of the allegations being investigated at this time."
South Scotland SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: "I was as shocked as everyone else to discover that the widespread exploitation of foreign workers is allegedly happening right here on our doorstep, but we must remember that this is not a problem confined to other countries.
"This sounds like it is a very complex operation and Dumfries and Galloway Police have done an excellent job today in co-ordinating these raids and rescuing 17 vulnerable foreign nationals."