Brothers jailed in modern slavery case


The recent sentencing of two brothers from Nottingham to six years in prison for modern slavery offences is another reminder that unfortunately modern slavery is happening around us and going unnoticed for too long in everyday scenarios.

In this recent case the two men were accused of trafficking 18 people from Poland. They paid for their travel to the UK but on arrival they confiscated their passports and took control of their bank accounts.

The offenders arranged work for the 18 men at the Sports Direct warehouse in Derbyshire. The workers were living in squalid conditions and received only about a third of their wages.

As part of their systematic approach to bringing people across to the UK to work for them the pair employed “spotters” in Poland who sought out vulnerable individuals who would be easy to control.

The incident highlights the issues and raises concerns about the exploitation of migrants and other vulnerable individuals.

In this case two individuals were prosecuted and sentenced for systematically exploiting the workers. The workers were working for a major retailer and had been placed in work by a recruitment agency. There was no suggestion that Sports Direct or Transline, the employment agency which placed some of the individuals, were in any way involved in any wrong doing. However the case does highlight the importance of employers and recruitment agencies having an understanding of the issues.

Large organisations are now required, under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, to produce a statement outlining the actions they are taking to prevent modern slavery. The statement should include details of how staff are being trained in this area. Through relevant training employees in commercial organisations can play a crucial role in working towards tackling modern slavery.

At Peel Solutions we offer a range of training in this area. Although the requirement to produce a modern slavery statement only applies to organisations with an annual turnover of at least £36 million we would recommend that organisations of all shapes and sizes can benefit from staff training in this area. The training is particularly relevant for recruitment agency staff as well as managers and HR staff working in organisations typically employing a high volume of lower paid workers or in sectors which rely heavily on migrant workers.

This case demonstrates how easily vulnerable individuals can slip through the net particularly in busy environments with a transient workforce. The warehouse where the victims were working employs 3000 agency workers and the plight of these 18 individuals had gone unnoticed until a single worker reported the situation.