Labour market exploitation being tackled by GLAA
17 January 2018
The work of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been praised by UK ‘anti-slavery tsar’ Kevin Hyland after he observed a multi-agency operation in London on Friday.
The Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner teamed up with officers from the GLAA for the first time to observe how they were utilising their recently-awarded powers to tackle exploitation across the entire labour market.
They were there to assist officers from the Metropolitan Police who were visiting a hand car wash in London’s Old Kent Road. The commissioner saw police arrest a 41-year-old Albanian man at the site in connection with suspected trafficking of Romanian nationals into the UK for the purpose of labour exploitation.
A total of 12 workers were discovered at the disused petrol station forecourt, either living on-site in shipping containers or the kiosk building or in nearby rented accommodation. All were being charged rent by the person arrested and appeared to be victims of exploitation.
The suspect’s home address in Peckham was also searched by police and GLAA investigators at the same time as the car wash. Five more potential trafficking victims were found at this address along with a four-year-old girl.
Speaking after the operation Mr Hyland said:
“Today’s operation was an example of exemplary collaboration involving the local community, the local authority, the GLAA and units across the Met from both borough and specialist teams, expertly supported by the Red Cross to provide support and safeguarding.
It’s only through this type of joint working - across agencies and supported by a vigilant and informed public - that we can fight Modern Slavery and support the victims in the way they deserve.”
All the adults are suspected to be victims of modern slavery and their details have been recorded. They have been cared for and re-housed by officials from the Red Cross. Some have expressed a desire to return home to Romania.
The suspect has now been release under investigation and his business was closed down by the local authority. Enquiries are continuing.