Slavery arrests in the West Midlands
23rd August 2017
Two people have been arrested in the West Midlands as part of a criminal investigation into the exploitation of Eastern European workers for cheap labour.
Raids were carried out at three restaurants across the region after acting on information which suggested staff were being brought into the UK and paid a pittance.
Modern slavery warrants were executed simultaneously at Ming Moon, Stafford Road, Wolverhampton; Wing Wah, Fletchamstead Highway, Coventry and Red Leaf, High Street, West Bromwich on Tuesday 22 August.. An associated address in Handsworth was also raided.
A total of 20 men, mainly from Slovakia and Romania, were discovered and living in poor conditions.
They have been safeguarded and taken to a reception centre where they will be given an opportunity to speak to specially trained officers.
A 49-year-old man and woman aged 45, both Slovakian, have been arrested on suspicion of slavery offences by providing staff through a recruitment consultancy. Further investigations are being carried out.
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) supported West Midlands Police which led the operation. Other agencies involved included the National Crime Agency, HMRC, the Red Cross and Hope for Justice.
Ian Waterfield, Director of Operations at the GLAA, said: “There are thousands of people being exploited for their labour across the UK, many of them forced to live in squalid conditions and fearful for their safety by the people controlling them.
“The GLAA’s number one priority is to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and we will continue working with our law enforcement colleagues to crack down on suspected illegal practices and do all we can to eradicate modern slavery.”
"We need the public to help us stop such exploitation and report anything suspicious; which can help us take firm and decisive action such as this operation today.
The safeguarded men will have the option of supporting a criminal complaint and referred through the National Referral Mechanism.
Anyone identified as a victim is helped into alternative accommodation in partnership with the Salvation Army.
Of the suspected slavery victims there were 12 found at the premises in Coventry, five in Wolverhampton and three from Anthrobus Road in Handsworth.
Mr Waterfield added: “Today’s action shows that the authorities are committed to tackling modern slavery and we will act wherever there is evidence it is being perpetrated. And this is where the public and businesses can help us by reporting their concerns.”
Click here to find out how to spot the signs of labour exploitation.
Anybody who suspects slavery or trafficking offences are happening in their community is urged to call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700, visit the GLAA’s website www.gla.gov.uk or call the GLAA in confidence on 0800 432 0804.