Could more be done by care watchdogs to tackle modern day slavery?
News | Alexia Conrath | Published: 11:05, Friday November 22nd, 2019.
Last updated: 11:05, Friday November 22nd, 2019
Questions have been asked over whether care watchdogs should be more vigilant in spotting cases of modern day slavery.
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney Assembly Member Dawn Bowden raised the issue in the Senedd following a raid at a care home in Brithdir earlier this month.
Up to 14 women were said to have been living in a small terraced house in nearby Herbert Street while working round-the-clock shifts at Ashville Residential Care Home. Neighbours have suggested the workers may be of Jamaican origin.
Another care home in Newport was also raided by police on the same morning, Thursday, November 7.
Two men, aged 53 and 64, of Newport, and a man, 43, of Surrey, were arrested and later released while under investigation.
A 43-year-old Rhymney woman was also arrested and later released on bail.
At the National Assembly of Wales on November 12, Ms Bowden asked First Minister Mark Drakeford what the Welsh Government was doing to combat modern day slavery.
She asked Mr Drakeford: “Should we be looking to ensure that inspection bodies are more alert to the issues around modern slavery and what they should be looking out for as a further way to help tackle this problem in the care sector in Wales?”
The First Minister said evidence would be gathered and lessons learned.
He also highlighted how Wales is the only UK country to have an anti-slavery co-ordinator and that last year 251 cases of modern day slavery were brought to light – up from 34 in 2012.
Speaking afterwards, Ms Bowden said: “I would urge everyone to be vigilant about the problem of modern day slavery and urge people to report any concerns they may have about the exploitation of vulnerable people.
“In the case of the recent incidents then Gwent Police must be left to continue their inquiries.”
Modern day 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.”