An Indian-origin couple from southern England have been arrested on modern-day slavery charges after they were accused of keeping a Polish builder in their garden shed for four years.
Palvinder and Pritpal Binning, both in their mid-50s, were arrested by the UK’s Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) earlier this week after a raid on their home in Chilworth, near Southampton on southern coast of England.
GLAA officers said they acted after a frail Polish man told staff at a walk-in healthcare centre in Southampton that he had been forced to work in exchange for food.
The Binnings have since been released under investigation, pending further enquiries. GLAA, the workers' watchdog, said its officers also searched the property and seized evidence which may prove critical to the investigation.
"Following the two arrests we made, our investigation is ongoing as we examine and assess the evidence we collected from the property," said GLAA Senior Investigating Officer Tony Byrne.
"It's really important that people get in touch if they believe someone is being exploited. By contacting us, we can ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in society are protected and supported," he said.
The potential victim told officers that he had been sleeping on a plastic sun-lounger deck chair in the shed at the bottom of the garden and was given out of date food to eat. He also said he had no flushing toilet and that his kitchen was a fridge and barbecue.
The man, aged in his 40s, has been taken into the UK government’s National Referral Mechanism, a process for ensuring victims of modern slavery and human trafficking are given help and support.
"First and foremost, we are pleased that the man is now receiving the help and support he so desperately needs. In the 21st century, no-one should be forced to live in such degrading and disgusting conditions," GLAA’s Tony Byrne added.
The operation, carried out on October 30, was supported by officers from Hampshire Police in charge of the Test Valley area.
Test Valley District Commander Chief Inspector Kory Thorne said: "Instances of modern-day slavery in the Test Valley are rare.
"However, when information is received suggesting someone is being subjected to modern-day slavery we will work with partner agencies to investigate and where necessary take action against those people responsible."