Birmingham & Black Country

Bus of suspected slavery victims stopped in Birmingham

West Midlands Police badge Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Thirteen suspects were arrested during multiple early morning raids in Birmingham

Thirteen Polish nationals arrested after suspected victims of slavery were found in Birmingham have been released.

In planned raids in Handsworth, police discovered three men and two women who they believe were being exploited. A minibus carrying suspected victims was also stopped in Westgate, Aldridge.

Police believe a legitimate employment agency "may have been infiltrated".

The five suspected victims have been safeguarded and are being cared for at a rest centre run by the Red Cross.

The nine men and four women arrested are aged between 18 and 60. Twelve have been bailed pending further investigations and no further action will be taken against a 19-year-old man.

Andy Davies, from the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, said: "Early indications suggest that a legitimate employment agency may have been infiltrated by an organised criminal gang."

West Midlands Police said they acted on intelligence that people were being brought to the UK before being offered out to work and receiving low pay, while "gangmasters" took a cut of their wages.

A number of early morning raids were carried out at residential properties in Handsworth on Farnham Road, Headingly Road, Heath South Road and Westbourne Road.

Sgt Phil Poole, from the force, said: "These raids were carried out as a result of intelligence and illustrates our intent to stop cruel individuals making cash off the misery of others."

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