Police have raided a food factory in Birmingham as part of an anti-slavery operation investigating the exploitation of foreign workers working in Britain without a valid UK work permit.
According to Birmingham Mail, West Midlands officers conducted the raid at Star Frozen Foods Ltd in Tyseley’s Wharf Road industrial estate alongside colleagues from the National Crime Agency, Birmingham City Council and the Gangmasters and Slavery Unit.
As part of the raids, dozens of potential victims without valid UK visas or UK work permits were taken away on a bus to be questioned by police and offered support by other organisations, with nationalities including Latvian, Lithuanian and Romanian.
Commenting on the raids, Chief Inspector Colin Mattinson stated that modern slavery is “a hidden crime that is in plain sight. Slavery cuts across other parts of crime. This is about criminals exploiting people for financial gain.”
He added: “They control housing and payments and often put people in debt on purpose so they can control them. The reason we have seen an increase in reports is because of the increase in community intelligence and an increase in partnership working.”
According to Mattinson, the police and the government are urging the public to come forward and provide information on people they believe may be in poverty, or have been seen being picked up for work very early or dropped off home very late.
Many of these workers are being forced to work without the appropriate UK work permits, preventing their names from being openly checked by the police for their protection.
"We also have to think about the people in lower level services, in areas like food processing, car washes and nail bars,” he said.
"I would urge people to continue to come forward about concerns and information they may have.”