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Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Police rescued 24 people kept in “filthy and cramped” living conditions, on Sunday morning. They also arrested 5 persons under the Slavery and Servitude Act 2010.
Greenacre caravan site was disturbed by dog-handling officers, a helicopter and firearms support from local Major Crime units, and UK Human Trafficking Centre in search of 15 possible persons forced to live and work in harsh conditions.
According to Sean O’Neil, Detective Chief Inspector, police units have been aware, since 2008, of 28 persons who have made accusations of slavery. After searching the place, 24 people were found “living and working in a state of virtual slavery.” The victims were from England, Poland and Romania, while LeightonBuzzardOnline stated Slovakians were involved as well.
“One man was found to be covered in dog excrement, while others were so malnourished that an intake of proper food may kill them,” LeightonBuzzardOnline said. People were recruited from soup kitchens and benefits offices, being promised to receive £80 per day, in addition to board and lodgings.
Instead, they had their hair cut off; they were kept in “horseboxes, dog kennels, and old caravans” and worked for nothing or for little food. The time they spent there ranged between a few months to 15 years, being forced to work for British and Scandinavian projects, detectives said.
In some cases, on Sundays, the prisoners’ only day of rest, they were obliged to get up at 6 a.m. to clean the travellers site. The individuals’ present mental conditions are poor. Immediately after the raid, they were given medical and professional assistance – a specialist in torture was there to offer support and assistance as well.
Most of them were among the most “vulnerable category of people in society, who can disappear and be held here without anyone knowing they were missing,” Sean O’Neil said, according to BBC UK. The five persons arrested are 4 men and one woman, being identified as Irish. Further interviews will be held and accusations established. Money, drugs and weapons were found at the location.
In light of such events, many believe it is necessary that Europe revisit it’s policy of respect for human. Migrants to Western Europe as well as nomadic population are still an issue for the European Community and their living conditions and working facilities are to be revised in order to avoid such inhumane cases of abuse and mistreatment from reoccurring.