Source: GLAA

The arrest took place after authorities raided a farm in Calverton

A man has been arrested in Nottinghamshire on suspicion of gangmaster offences after a farm raid last Thursday.

The 41-year-old Belgian national was arrested on suspicion of supplying workers to the farm without a licence after an operation in Calverton on the afternoon of 12 October.

“We responded to intelligence indicating the alleged unlicensed supply of workers in the agricultural sector,” said Gangmasters & Labour Authority (GLAA) investigating officer Dale Walker.

“Anyone who supplies workers into this sector must be licensed by the GLAA.

“As an agency we are committed to enforcing a robust and effective licensing scheme so businesses are not undercut and workers receive all the rights they are entitled to by law.”

The suspect has been released on bail until December and investigations are ongoing.

Read more: Food and drink SMEs offered toolkit to tackle modern slavery

GLAA data in August showed an increase in reported cases of labour exploitation in the agriculture sector in the second quarter of the year (six in Q2 compared to five in Q1).

The sector accounted for 12% of all reports in that three-month period.

The most common exploitation types in UK farms were working long hours and feeling controlled, the GLAA report also noted. This was closely followed by inadequate pay.

Food and agriculture industries have come under increased scrutiny over the past two years due to a higher number of reports of labour exploitation in farms across the country.

This has been linked to Britain leaving the EU in 2021, which resulted in a bigger influx of fruit and veg pickers from south Asian countries where practices like debt bondage are recurring.

Read more: Labour agencies to face supermarket scrutiny over exploitation claims

The home secretary Suella Braverman last week appointed the current deputy children’s commissioner Eleanor Lyons to fill the role of independent anti-slavery commissioner, which had been vacant for more than a year.

Lyons will take up the role in December. She said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are abhorrent crimes. Our response must be focused on prosecuting those responsible, preventing further exploitation and protecting victims, particularly those least often heard.

“The independent anti-slavery commissioner was created to drive efforts forward and encourage best practice across the UK.

“I look forward to working constructively with stakeholders and building on the progress that has been made since the role was created. I am committed to a victim-centric approach and to ensuring that survivors’ experiences inform my work to effect meaningful change.”