GALLERY: Four migrant workers discovered living in tent as shocking extent of exploitation is revealed
- Credit: Archant
Four migrant workers were found living in a tent without sanitation or basic amenities on the outskirts of Wisbech on Friday.
The workers were discovered at a temporary camp during an inspection by Operation Pheasant, which aims to crack down on human trafficking and exploitation.
They will be found alternative accommodation and, if they wish, provided with voluntary repatriation. The site will shortly be cleared.
Cambs Police, Fenland District Council, Cambs Fire and Rescue, the Gangmaster Licensing Authority (GLA), Home Office Immigration Enforcement and the HMRC Hidden Economy Team took part in the inspection.
Since Operation Pheasant was launched in January 2013, 358 inspections have been carried out and 29 enforcement actions pursued.
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Homes have been found to have leaking roofs, damp and mould, toilets falling through the floor, no hot water, overflowing bins, blocked drainage and rough sleeping.
In that time, more than 180 people have been rescued from illegal housing and 51 have been helped to return home.
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MP Steve Barclay, who was also present at Friday’s inspection, said: “We should be proud locally of the difference being made by the Operation Pheasant team in tackling squalid living conditions which impact both those in the house and those living nearby.
“The team are making a real difference to vulnerable workers and to their neighbours in the wider community, and it also helps inform the changes in legislation that I continue to champion at Westminster.”
One of the most shocking cases of exploitation uncovered was that of a Lithuanian woman and her two young daughters who paid to come to the UK on the empty promise of full time work.
Operation Pheasant visited the home the family shared with seven men and found it was overcrowded, there was mould and damp due to condensation, numerous hazards including exposed electrics and the front door was locked with no key so there was no means of escape in a fire.
Some months later, on another Operation Pheasant visit, the same family were identified in another property.
While reluctant to speak at first, the woman told officers her passport had been taken and she had been made to work longer hours.
Two days later, the Operation Pheasant team received a call from the woman.
One of her daughters had contracted chicken pox so she phoned her contact to say that she couldn’t attend work because she needed to look after her.
The woman was threatened in person by a man that she did not know with being forced into organ donation if she didn’t get to work immediately.
Terrified, she made contact with Operation Pheasant and the family was placed in to the National Referral Mechanism and taken to a safe place away from the area.