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Three arrested in modern slavery probe

Three arrested in modern slavery probe

Three men have been arrested in connection with an investigation into modern slavery offences.

Police searches on two recycling plants came across six Polish men they suspected were being employed as slave labour, one of whom is alleged to have been working despite having a broken shoulder, with some of the others "displaying signs of malnutrition".

West Midlands Police targeted two plants in the West Bromwich and Oldbury areas as part of the operation on Tuesday.

The force said its officers had found Polish nationals working for what it suspected could have been as little as £1 an hour, while others were allegedly sleeping on cardboard.

In a statement, police said the raids had resulted in a total of 11 men being "safeguarded", given access to medical care and - if necessary - a place to stay.

Searches were carried out at CAP Recycling in Elwell Street in West Bromwich, where a 52-year-old man was arrested, and Black Country Recycling in Union Road, Oldbury.

In related raids on addresses in the West Midlands and Birmingham, two men aged 26 and 47 were also detained.

Inspector Colin Mattinson, who led the operation, said: "Police intelligence suggested eastern European men were being exploited at the unit and being paid just £10 for working long hours."

He added: "We've found evidence suggesting some of these men were sleeping at one of the recycling units and bedding down on waste cardboard.

"Suspected victims will receive medical attention and support before being spoken to by our officers with the aid of Polish interpreters."

Mr Mattinson said: "We are raising awareness of modern day slavery but it remains a largely hidden crime.

"I'd urge members of the public to look out for tell-tale signs, things like large numbers of people staying in multi-occupancy houses and people being ferried to and from the address on vans or minibuses early in the morning and returning late at night."

The operation involved the National Crime Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, firefighters and council housing officers.