PERSONAL VIEW: Why I found Operation Pheasant an eye opening experience as poor migrant workers are deliberately kept poor

Occupants of the house in Colvile Road, Wisbech, are using a two-pronged plug in a three-pronged soc

Occupants of the house in Colvile Road, Wisbech, are using a two-pronged plug in a three-pronged socket. - Credit: Archant

I READ with interest the letters you published commenting on your extensive coverage of Operation Pheasant (June 14).

Officers entering the house in Colvile Road, Wisbech.

Officers entering the house in Colvile Road, Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

I had the job of taking the photographs which accompanied the article so I learned a little about the problem.

Insp Robin Sissons and PCSO Aivaras Krochalev speak to a migrant worker living at the house in Clare

Insp Robin Sissons and PCSO Aivaras Krochalev speak to a migrant worker living at the house in Claremont Road, Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

The operation was very carefully conducted by police, Fenland District Council and personnel from ACT Peterborough.

Empty cider bottles and rubbish scattered on the floor and in the bath at the squat in Norwich Road,

Empty cider bottles and rubbish scattered on the floor and in the bath at the squat in Norwich Road, Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

These poor exploited people are made poor because there is deliberate strategy by the operators to make sure they are kept poor. These operators are often both landlords and gangmasters!

Officers speak to one of the migrant workers who lives at the house in Friday Bridge.

Officers speak to one of the migrant workers who lives at the house in Friday Bridge. - Credit: Archant

The victims are lured to Britain with stories of the opportunities here. They often invest their life savings in an effort to better themselves. They are charged a huge amount (up to £800) for transport here and are then fleeced of their other savings and their earnings by high rents, short-time working and travel to work charges.


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The object is to get them into debt to the operators of this despicable trade. It is often little better than a slave trade.

The pictures of the worst squalor were taken in a squat in Norwich Road. This house had been broken into and could only be approached by fighting through the jungle in the back garden.

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Because it is an empty property there are no wheelie bins. As the photos show the whole house was littered with detritus and human excrement. It appeared to be used by people who had been thrown out on the street by landlords.

The operators have no compunction about treating these people like animals or commodities. There are many more sleeping rough around the district.

I suggest the letter writer who describes this as good accommodation should learn more about the problem. The owner of this property is the one who is neglecting it. It appeared to have been empty for ages. Each squatter probably only stays for a short time.

With regard to the interpreter costs, the lead interpreter came from ACT and was a volunteer.

Police have a real asset in Aivaras Krochalev who is an outstanding PCSO and speaks several languages. He is therefore able to assist in all the daily business involving immigrants at no extra cost. Clever recruitment I’m sure you will agree.

This is a problem that runs deeper than most people think. Josiah Wedgwood’s iconic 1787 image of a slave which bears the words “Am I not a man and a brother” appears on our very own Clarkson Memorial.

Have times changed?

JOHN SMITH

Marsh Walk

Wisbech

Via e-mail

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