Three arrested in northern England, suspected of enslaving Slovakians

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 16, 2014 9:41 AM

By Magdalena Mis

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Police have arrested three men in a raid on a factory in the northern England town of Rochdale and are expected to charge them with trafficking and enslavement offences after finding 20 Slovakians working there in dire conditions.

The immigrants, who worked in a factory producing pictures and frames, were paid just 25 pounds for an 80-hour work week after having about 100 pounds deducted from their wages for rent, travel and other expenses, a police spokesman said.

They were paid less than 2 pounds ($3.15) per hour and suffered physical and verbal assaults, he said.

"If charges are brought, they will be brought later tonight ..." Greater Manchester Police spokesman Chris Taylor told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The factory owner was among the three men arrested on Monday, and one of the three was a Pakistani national, police said. A 24-year-old man was also arrested, on suspicion of immigration offences.

The deduction of wages "... leaves the men and women effectively working for pennies, while ... ensuring they remain reliant on the people enslaving them," James Faulkner of Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.

"When you consider that this factory was producing frames and pictures for major high street companies, with contracts running into the millions of pounds, it proves just how much money these men stood to make from this exploitation," he said.

In a joint operation Greater Manchester Police and Rochdale Council found 10 of the immigrants living in a property in Rochdale, where up to four people had to share a room.

"The men and women are promised accommodation and jobs, but are forced to live in cramped, terrible conditions before being taken to work in a factory for more than 12 hours each day," said Faulkner.

The Foreign Office (ministry) estimates there are between 10,000 and 13,000 people living in slavery in Britain, far more than the previous estimate of between 4,200 and 4,600.

(Reporting By Magdalena Mis; Editing by Tim Pearce)