Police swoop in Smethwick modern slavery warrant
A factory has been shut down and 15 suspected victims of exploitation identified in a major swoop in Sandwell.
Neighbourhood police officers joined forces with specialist colleagues from the West Midlands Police Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) to execute the warrant at 7pm in Anne Road, Smethwick, on Wednesday (10 April), after receiving information that the factory was involved in labour exploitation and trafficking.
The Regional Disruption Team are a government funded team that supports multi-agency working for operations such as this.
Around 60 workers were spoken to and had their identities checked to establish if they were being exploited, and if they were being paid the national minimum wage.
Their employers could now face a fine of up to £20,000 for each worker.
One child was found to be working at the premises and has been safeguarded by Children’s Services, until their age and parent or guardian can be identified.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will continue an investigation into the owners of the premises. The factory was also found to be using electricity diverted from the grid.
Insp Colin Gallier, from the Sandwell Neighbourhood Team, said: “As a result of the hard work and ultimately the important information that has come from members of the public, we have successfully shut the business down indefinitely.”
Sandwell Council said: “Working together with partner organisations on operations like this is essential for tackling modern slavery and human trafficking.”