GLAA hits back at labour exploitation with new powers

New powers given to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) have already seen positive results following the authority’s extended remit.

The GLAA’s strengthened powers has enabled it to carry out arrests in cases involving modern slavery and labour exploitation rather than having to refer offenders to the police.

In a statement released at the weekend, the GLAA revealed its new powers, awarded two months ago, have already resulted in the arrest of more than 25 people on suspicion of exploiting workers, safeguarding 76 potential victims of slavery, and recovered “tens of thousands” of pounds in confiscated wages.

The statement also revealed government is investing an additional £2m to extend the remit of the GLAA to enable it to “prevent, detect and investigate worker exploitation across the entire economy”.

Commenting on the GLAA’s new powers, CEO Paul Broadbent said: “Modern slavery is abhorrent; it is described by the prime minister as ‘the greatest human rights issue of our time’. Much of it is controlled by organised crime gangs who have links to drug smuggling and gun violence.

“But those who profit and perpetrate slavery and exploitation should now be looking over their shoulders because the creation of the GLAA is a significant step in our desire to see it eradicated.”

The GLAA also revealed that since the start of May its new powers have been used across the country in number of joint operations to clamp down on modern slavery and labour exploitation. One such operation was conducted with South Yorkshire Police, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and HM Revenue & Customs last month (19 June) in which warrants were executed at a number of addresses and four men arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and money laundering offences. 

Over the following days, the GLAA revealed, more than 100 addresses were then visited to identify potential victims of exploitation. 

The GLAA added it will be collaborating closely alongside the police, the NCA, Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, HMRC, the Department of Work and Pensions and others. GLAA analysts are already working within the Joint Slavery Trafficking Analysis Centre – an intelligence-gathering unit set up this year to tackle human trafficking.

In a separate release today, the GLAA revealed that 96% of labour providers surveyed by the Association of Labour Providers (ALP) said they were in favour of the organisation, with 86% saying the GLAA was doing a good job.

The survey also showed two-thirds (69%) of gangmasters surveyed believed the GLAA had ‘created a more level playing field for competition’, while 85% agreed that the service received in their last contact with the organisation was ‘professional’.

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