Safeguarding visit to suspected modern day slavery nursery reveals ‘unacceptable’ living conditions
A safeguarding visit to a suspected modern day slavery nursery has uncovered poor living conditions.
Working in partnership with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) and South Cambs District Council, officers from the South Cambridgeshire Neighbourhood Policing Team carried out the visit at a business premises in Old North Road, Kneesworth, on Friday.
Five Vietnamese men were found at the premises where they are believed to have worked for little or no money, living on site in cramped and poor conditions.
One man, aged 51, told officers he arrived in the country off the back of a lorry in 2014 but had no official papers. He was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences but later released on bail to attend the immigration centre.
Sergeant Emma Hilson who led the visit said: “The purpose of this visit was to check on the vulnerable people living within our community and ensure they are protected from any type of exploitation.
“While we didn’t find anyone actively working at the nursery, the conditions in which the people there were living were unacceptable.”
The men were sleeping in two cramped caravans and appeared to carry out their cooking, washing and fitness in one of the greenhouses. There were also animals kept in poor conditions.
Sgt Hilson added: “Referrals are being made to partners including the RSPCA, South Cambs District Council, Health and Safety Executive and fire service to ensure the standard of living improves at this site. The landowner of the site will also be consulted with the full findings of the operation.
“It’s often a misconception that slavery is a thing of the past, however, sadly it is a very true and real occurrence. It is a hidden crime that occurs across the county, even in some of our most affluent areas.
“Tackling modern slavery is a key priority for the force. Increasing intelligence in this area is key to protecting the vulnerable. It’s important that people are aware of the signs of modern slavery and report concerns to us to stop other human beings being exploited for financial gain.”
GLAA investigating officer Hayley Palmer added: “Working in partnership is crucial in identifying vulnerable workers at risk of exploitation and ensuring they receive the support they so desperately need.
“Moderns slavery is often described as hiding in plain sight so it’s really important that if the public sees signs of exploitation such as workers living in cramped accommodation, working in poor conditions and receiving little pay, that they either contact us or our partners in law enforcement.”
For further information on modern slavery and advice on how to spot the signs, visit www.cambs.police.uk/modernslavery.