British couple arrested for enslaving Polish man in garden shed for four years

  • The man was kept in ‘degrading and disgusting’ conditions, and forced to work for expired food, according to UK investigators
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 5:27am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 5:39am

A British couple have been arrested for enslaving a Polish man in their garden shed for four years, and forcing him to work for expired food, authorities said on Wednesday, amid a nationwide crackdown on modern slavery.

A 56-year-old woman and 54-year-old man from Chilworth in Southampton, southern England, were arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences on Tuesday, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), said in a statement.

It said medics alerted authorities when a Polish man in his 40s entered a walk-in health centre and told staff he was forced to work for food.

The man, who is now receiving government support, also said he had no flushing toilet and was made to sleep on a plastic sun lounger in the stark brick shed.

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“In the 21st century, no one should be forced to live in such degrading and disgusting conditions,” said Tony Byrne, senior investigating officer with the GLAA, Britain’s anti-slavery body.

Britain has set itself as a global leader in the fight against slavery, passing a tough anti-trafficking law in 2015, which it plans to review amid criticism that it is not being used fully to jail traffickers or help victims.

The country is home to an estimated 136,000 slaves, according to Australian rights group Walk Free Foundation.

The arrest comes just weeks after specialist officers in the north of England rescued another potential slavery victim who had lived in a shed for 40 years. A 79-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offences.

Many are immigrants lured to Britain under the false promise of a better life and then forced to work at car washes, construction sites, hotels, nail bars and farms, officials say.