West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Mark Burns-Williamson has warned that those behind the “vile” crime of Modern Slavery Act offences could face the possibility of a life sentence.
The harsher treatment of Modern Slavery crimes was illustrated at the Appeal Court in London on Wednesday when David Zielinski, who trafficked “desperate” victims from Poland to Bradford, had his jail term increased from four to seven years.
Zielinski, 24, of Enfield, North London, was part of a ruthless gang that put its victims to work in jobs in Bradford but kept most of their wages. One was “severely beaten” when he became ill and lost his job, and another described living conditions as like a “labour camp from World War Two.”
In a recent post eLamb questioned whether the current increase in Modern Slavery cases was due to greater awareness of the crime or more people committing the crime?
Mr Burns-Williamson said that while National Crime Agency data had shown a 17 per cent increase nationally in human trafficking referrals, including 207 potential victims in West Yorkshire in 2016, it “didn’t mean the issue was getting worse.”
He said: “More Modern Slavery Act offences being identified means more awareness. It means people recognise what modern slavery is and are contacting the relevant authorities to help and support them.”