London: High Commission of India in the United Kingdom reached out to the students who were believed to be trapped in modern slavery. Reacting to a report by the United Kingdom's government agency for labour exploitation, the Indian High Commissioner asked the victims to reach out to them for help and counselling.
"We were concerned to read this news. Indian students who have suffered this, please contact us at email@example.com, and we will provide help/counselling. We assure you of confidentiality in our response," the Indian High Commission tweeted.
Nearly 50 students victims of modern slavery: GLAA
Investigators from Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) in its probe identified "more than 50 Indian students as being potential victims of modern slavery and labour abuse over the last 14 months" while working at care homes in North Wales.
The investigative agency got a court order against five people of Indian origin who abused these 50 students. GLAA was granted a Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order (STRO) indefinitely against the defendants at Mold Magistrates' Court last week.
Five accused from Kerala were arrested by GLAA in 2021-22
The five accused, between age groups 25 to 47, were identified and they are: Mathew Issac and Jinu Cherian from Abergele, Eldhose Cherian, Eldhose Kuriachan and Jacob Liju from Pwllheli, a statement released by the AGLAA said.
They were arrested by the GLAA between December 2021 and May 2022. Investigations are ongoing but there have been no criminal charges at this stage.
Two accused supplied workers through an agency set up in 2021
GLAA said Issac and his wife Jinu Cherian also supplied workers through Alexa Care Solutions, a recruitment agency registered in May 2021.
Reports to the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline three months later claimed that Indian workers employed by Alexa Care were not being paid correctly or were having their wages withheld.
Significant concerns were raised at the same time about the workers' appearance and that they always appeared to be hungry, the agency revealed.
What entails STRO order
The STRO orders all five to inform the GLAA of any change of name or address within seven days, and allow GLAA access, at any reasonable time, to where they are living to establish and confirm that the STRO is being complied with.
Breaching the order is a criminal offence carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Cops' statement on the North Wales incident
"We are all aware that staffing levels have been a cause concern in the care sector for some time, and have not been helped by the Covid pandemic," GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Martin Plimmer said.
"Unfortunately, where labour shortages exist, there is an increased risk of opportunists using the situation for their own financial gain, usually at the expense of workers that they are exploiting."
"Tackling the exploitation of workers in care homes is one of the GLAA's top priorities, and this order is crucial in restricting the activities of those we suspect would otherwise commit slavery or trafficking offences," Plimmer said in a GLAA statement.
Modern slavery rampant in United Kingdom
In the UK, the number of people identified as victims of modern slavery has been rising year on year, with over 12,000 people referred to the authorities in 2021, according to rights body Anti-Slavery International.
The real number of people trapped in slavery is estimated to be much higher -- more than 130,000 people -- and is estimated to cost the UK 33 billion pounds per year, it said.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)