Three arrested in forced labour investigation of woman living in a cupboard

Three people have been arrested after investigators rescued a woman who claimed that she was forced to live in a cupboard by her alleged exploiters.

Officers from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) executed warrants at addresses in Staffordshire and North Wales on the morning of 3 November.

A 46-year-old British man was arrested at his home address in Newcastle-under-Lyme on suspicion of forced labour and human trafficking offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Later that morning, a 21-year-old man, also a British national, was arrested at a lettings agency in the Hanley area of Stoke-on-Trent for the same forced labour offences.

A third man, aged 36 and a Bangladeshi national, was arrested at an address in Llandudno, North Wales, as part of the same investigation.

The three suspects have been interviewed by the GLAA and released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Information shared with the GLAA from the Modern Slavery Helpline indicated that workers at a hotel in Llandudno were not being paid the National Minimum Wage, were expected to work long hours and were not given access to contracts they were rushed into signing.

GLAA officers visited the hotel with North Wales Police and HM Revenue and Customs’ NMW team in October. Two female workers, both British nationals aged in their 30s, were interviewed and said that they were paid as little as £250 per month for up to 60 hours of work per week.

They claimed that they were told to lie about their working hours if asked and that two of the suspects who recruited them would frequently visit the hotel to check up on their work.

One of the potential victims added that she was forced to live in a cupboard with no washing facilities.

Both have been accepted into the government’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to receive specialist support.

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