LONDON, Feb 10 (PTI) – The High Commission of India here on Friday called on students to contact the mission for help and advice amid fears more than 50 of them could be victims of modern slavery while working in nursing homes in North Wales.
The Gangmasters and Labor Abuse Authority (GLAA), the UK government’s intelligence and investigative agency for labor exploitation, reported earlier this week that it had successfully obtained court orders against five abused workers.
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GLAA said it had identified “more than 50 Indian students who were potential victims of modern slavery and labor abuse in the past 14 months” in connection with the case.
“We are concerned to see this news. Indian students who have encountered this situation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide assistance/advice. We assure you that our response is confidential ,” the High Commission tweeted.
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Five people – Mathew Issac, 32, Jinu Cherian, 30, Eldhose Cherian, 25, Eldhose Kuriachan, 25, and Jacob Liju, 47 – allegedly recruited and exploited vulnerable Indian students working in care homes across North Wales , and was placed under a Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order (STRO).
The five, all originally from Kerala, were arrested by the GLAA between December 2021 and May 2022 and no criminal charges have been laid against them at this stage, although the investigation is still ongoing.
They are said to have links to nursing homes in Abergele, Pwllheli, Llandudno and Colwyn Bay across the region, either working there themselves or having direct family links to people working in these nursing homes.
Isaac and his wife, Jinu Cherian, also provide workers through Alexa Care Solutions, a recruitment agency registered in May 2021, the GLAA said.
A report to the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline three months later said Indian workers employed by Alexa Care were not being paid correctly, or had their wages withheld.
At the same time, there has been great concern about the appearance of the workers, who always seem to be hungry, the agency revealed.
“We all know that staffing levels have been a concern in the nursing sector for some time and the COVID pandemic hasn’t helped that,” said GLAA senior investigator Martin Plimmer.
“Unfortunately, where labor shortages exist, there is an increased risk of opportunists exploiting the situation for financial gain, often at the expense of the workers they are exploiting.
“Addressing the exploitation of nursing home workers is one of GLAA’s top priorities, and this order is critical to restricting the activities of those we suspect will commit slavery or human trafficking,” he said.
STRO imposed a series of strict conditions on the defendants, including prohibiting them from arranging work, transportation or travel for anyone, and allowing GLAA to visit their residence at any reasonable time to determine and confirm that the order is being complied with.
Breaching the order is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
“Through our investigation, we have concluded that such an order is proportionate and protects more workers from potential exploitation and abuse,” Plimmer added.
The GLAA said it had cooperated with the Welsh Care Inspectorate and other relevant local authorities during the investigation.
Modern slavery is regarded as a serious crime under UK and international law, where victims are exploited, controlled or held captive, and threatened or punished to prevent their escape or reporting.
According to British police, modern slavery includes human trafficking, where victims are taken between or around countries so that they can be exploited.
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)