The first arrest made under new powers by Britain’s anti slavery and labour abuse authority was in West Row.
The Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been given new police-style arrest powers but because of the ‘purdah’ laws surrounding the June general election was unable to publicise its first arrest in May.
But it announced on Saturday that since then it has arrested more than 25 people on suspicion of exploiting workers, safeguarded 76 potential slavery victims and recovered tens of thousands of pounds in confiscated wages.
A GLAA spokesman said this week: “The first ever use of the new GLAA powers took place in the village of West Row, Suffolk, on 4 May.
“A GLAA officer arrested a 59-year-old Lithuanian male on suspicion of acting as a gangmaster without a licence and human trafficking offences under the Modern Slavery Act.
“The suspect was questioned by the GLAA and Suffolk Police and was later released under investigation. Enquiries continue.”
GLAA chief executive Paul Broadbent said: “Modern slavery is abhorrent. Much of it is controlled by organised crime gangs who have links to drug smuggling, and gun violence.
“But those who profit and perpetrate slavery and exploitation should now be looking over their shoulders because the creation of the GLAA is a significant step in our desire to see it eradicated.”
Estimates put the number of slaves in the UK between 10,000-13,000 but the GLAA believes it could be even higher.
It says slavery and labour exploitation have infiltrated legitimate supply chains including retail, construction, care homes and the hotel and hospitality industry.