A number of Eastern Europeans were found living and working in the old Past Times building in Fishergate during an investigation into potential modern slavery.Advertisement
Officers from Lancashire Police and Preston City Centre visited the premises and discovered the workers were living in unsuitable accommodation, which was effectively a building site.
The premises was immediately shut down and the workers were given information about their rights as employees and the national minimum wage, as well as advice on their housing needs.
Craig Sharp, chief environmental health officer from Preston City Council said: “Our housing standards team advised occupants of the dangers of living at the property and made them aware of their employment rights, as well as encouraged them to speak to the council’s housing advice team for help with any immediate housing needs.”
DS Abi Finch-Hall said: “Lancashire Constabulary is committed to ensuring that people who work in Lancashire are kept safe.
“Forced labour is a form of modern slavery where people are forced, deceived or threatened to work long hours for little or no pay.
“Through multi agency visits such as these, we will continue to identify potential victims of modern slavery and help to identify and bring to justice people who chose to exploit others. ”
“Our intention is to eradicate modern slavery from Lancashire. We have been raising the profile of modern slavery especially in the area of forced labour. “
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Mr Sharp added: “The vigilance of the public in reporting suspicions along with the collaborative working of Preston City Council’s environmental health, planning enforcement and fraud teams, Lancashire Police and the Health and Safety Executive has protected the welfare of these individuals.
“The council and our partners will not hesitate to act where we find unacceptable housing conditions and we urge tenants to contact us if they find themselves in such circumstances.”
If you have any concerns around modern slavery please call the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700, or report to lancashire.police.uk/reportonline.