Up to 14 women staff were living together in one small terraced house while working around-the-clock in alleged “modern-day slavery” at two care homes for the elderly, it was revealed today.
Three men are being quizzed by police investigating slavery allegations at the two care homes charging up to £800-a-week for elderly residents.
Police swooped on the two care homes in Wales after a tip-off that staff working there were allegedly forced into modern-day slavery of long hours with low pay.
Officers were today searching the care homes and a three-bedroom end-of-terrace house two streets away from one where nursing staff were living together.
Five women were found at the house – but some neighbours say up to 14 women had lived in the house at the one time while working round-the-clock shifts at the nearby care home.
Shocked neighbours of Ashville Residential Care Home in Brithdir, Caerphilly, said it has a number of foreign staff working to care for the elderly residents.
One neighbour said: “We’ve heard that there were 14 women in there at one time. They were sharing bedrooms and swapping over when they had finished their shifts – it’s shocking.”
Another neighbour said: “There are at least five women in that house.
“They all work at the care home I think so I’ve seen them up and down the street.
“They all dress lovely. They seem Jamaican to me or from that part of the world. They all seem pleasant enough.
“I’ve seen a man in and out of that house too.”
A police opened the door at the terraced house in Herbert Street, Brithdir, and said: “They don’t want to chat, thank you.”
Neighbours saw police arrive at the house at around 6.30am.
The neighbour said: “The women are back and forth, they’re always dragging suitcases around. There are also men coming back and forth. They’re always partying in there.
“The youngest looks about 18, oldest could be 40 or 50.”
A reception centre for has been set up by the police force’s Human Trafficking Team to ensure “potential victims are protected and that they receive the appropriate support necessary.”
Another neighbour said: “I have seen a few foreigners here for the last two months.
“They worked at the care home and went to the pub and stuff.
“I’m shocked to be honest with you. They seemed really nice up at the care home. It’s a lovely facility.”
Modern slavery is defined as the “recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation.”
Ashville Residential Care Home is run by manager Neeru Sharma.
It holds up to 35 residents including those suffering dementia, mental health conditions and those in old age.
The home’s specialist care categories include autism, hearing impairment and deafness, speech impairment and visual impairment.
Nursing care in the home costs up to £850 per week.
Two men, aged 53 and 64, of Newport, South Wales, and a man, 43, of Surrey, have been arrested to be interviewed by detectives.
Gwent Police said officers from its human trafficking team were working with partner agencies including the British Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
A neighbour of Danygraig Nursing Home in Newport described the arrests as “disturbing.”
She said: “Yes you see staff there at all hours but we had no idea people were being forced to work there. It is very disturbing.”
Danygraig Nursing Home has 39 rooms and can hold up to 48 residents.
It is run by manager George Masih and is registered to house people in old age, with physical disability and younger adults.
Care at the home costs up to £800 a week for residents.
Police answered the door at the Newport care home too and said there was no one willing to talk.
One elderly man, who lives next to the care home, said: “I can’t believe it – modern slavery? I’ve not seen anything like that up there and I’ve lived here for 15 years.”
Gwent police say the allegations are not against people living inside the two homes.
Officers carried out warrants with the National Crime Agency and the arrested men are now in custody.
Det Ch Supt Nicky Brain said: “The offences that are being investigated are serious.
“We would like to reassure residents and their families that this investigation is not as a result of any concerns raised regarding crimes committed against people residing in these homes.”
In a joint statement, Newport council and Caerphilly council said they were working with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Care Inspectorate Wales to “ensure a continuation of care”.
It said: “We appreciate families may be concerned as a result of today’s events but we would like to reassure them that their loved ones are safe and their well-being is our priority.”