24 Jun 2020
Around 200 farm workers were interviewed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) as part of efforts by law enforcement to ensure regulations are being followed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The visit conducted with Cambridgeshire Police’s Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) on Tuesday June 23 was organised as part of ongoing engagement work by the GLAA with the agricultural sector to support farmers during the crisis and to check that workers are being treated correctly.
GLAA officers spoke to the Romanian and Bulgarian workers employed on both sites of the farm south-west of Peterborough and delivered presentations informing them of their rights in the UK. All were happy with their roles and working conditions.
In the last month, the GLAA has written to all agricultural labour sites in the south of England to provide farmers with support during the current crisis.
The GLAA will finish visiting all the farms contacted over the next few weeks to give further guidance to the industry and to check on the welfare of workers.
GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Jennifer Baines said: “We were pleased to hear that the workers were happy with their conditions and had received the appropriate training for their roles. It was also encouraging to see that the farm had fully implemented guidelines around COVID-19 and was taking the threat this virus poses extremely seriously.
“While understandably a lot of focus of our work is on the people and organisations who exploit their workers, it is also important for us to build strong relationships with compliant businesses who understand the need to treat their workers fairly and can have confidence in us to fully enforce the legislation.”
Detective Chief Inspector Dan Quigley, of Cambridgeshire Police, said: “Tackling modern slavery can be challenging and one of our main concerns is ensuring people across Cambridgeshire are being treated fairly and are not being exploited.
“Therefore we’re pleased to work alongside the GLAA on visits such as this to ensure we’re doing all we can to safeguard workers and tackle exploitation.
“Alongside that we also want to reach out to people who may be able to help us as a result of their circumstances changing due to COVID-19.
“People can help by trusting their instincts, knowing what the signs of modern slavery are and when someone may be being exploited. Doing so could save a life.
“The signs to look out for, and how to report concerns to us, can be found on the force’s dedicated web page at www.cambs.police.uk/modernslavery.”
Anyone who suspects someone is being exploited for their labour should contact the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
This work forms part of Operation Aidant, a three-week exercise involving the GLAA, National Crime Agency and police to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the UK labour market.
25 Jun 2020