Manchester

Rochdale 'slavery' raid: Workers 'begged' for rescue

Caldershaw Centre Image copyright Google
Image caption The Iqbal Bros factory is based at Caldershaw Business Centre in Rochdale

Factory workers found in an anti-slavery raid in Greater Manchester "clung" to officers and begged to be rescued, police said.

Thirteen Slovakian immigrants were found at Iqbal Bros picture frame factory in Rochdale on Monday.

The company had "contracts running into millions of pounds" with high street firms, Greater Manchester Police said.

Four men were arrested on trafficking and enslavement offences and one man was arrested for immigration offences.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the arrests resulted from intelligence gathered during a separate investigation into a suspected trafficking ring alleged to have almost tricked a pregnant woman into an abortion after a sham marriage.

The information led to a police search of a Rochdale property, where they found 10 Eastern European immigrants "living in terrible conditions", with up to four people sleeping in each room.

Image caption An investigation found the workers were housed in "terrible conditions"

Police then learned the immigrants were being taken to work at the Iqbal Bros factory on Ings Avenue, where they were paid less than £2 per hour for working more than 80 hours per week.

The 13 Slovakians found during Monday's raid had been in the UK for periods ranging from a few weeks to six months, and travelled to Rochdale on a bus from Bradford.

The youngest alleged victim was 18 while the older ones were in their mid-30s.

Det Insp James Faulkner said: "The men and women are promised accommodation and jobs, but are forced to live in cramped, terrible conditions before being taken to work in a factory for more than 12 hours each day.

"At the end of the week, the factory owners pay them around £125 for their 80 hours, but then take up to £100 away immediately for rent, travel and other expenses."

He added it was "a typical example of how modern slavery can work in the UK".

The factory workers also told police they received physical and verbal abuse from their employers.

The investigation was part of an operation with Rochdale Council, the Home Office and customs. The factory was closed on Tuesday.

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