GLA see families, children as victims
28th October 2010: The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and West Mercia Police have found seven Romanian children working under "appalling" conditions.
The children, aged between nine and 15, were with a group of adults picking spring onions in the Malvern Hills district; and a gangmaster is believed to be behind their "exploitation".
Describing the working conditions "appalling", GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse said a gangmaster was believed to be involved.
West Midlands Police said they were working with the GLA to identify one suspect in the case.
Some of the seven children were with their parents, others were working alone. Six of them were taken into police protection.
GLA Communications and Press Manager Tim Carter said the children have now been returned to their families. In fact, the family members have now been identified for all of the children in the Birmingham Area
He added: `We see the families and the children as victims in this’.
Elaborating, he said: `The adult females were wearing sandals and cotton skirts in near freezing conditions.
`The GLA acting on intelligence descended with West Mercia Police on a field in the Kempsey area of Worcestershire.
`The temperature was nearing freezing point.
`On the field two groups were identified. A group of 50 Romanians where no licensed gangmaster could be established, this included a number of children. There was also a small group of Indian workers who were working for a licensed gangmaster.
`Seven Romanian children were found picking spring onions, the children, two boys and five girls, are between the ages of nine and 15. Some were working with their parents but others were not.
`West Mercia Police took the children into Police Protection.
`One of the vehicles seen to bring workers to the field was a box van with a settee in the back.
`The workers and children were not dressed adequately to protect themselves from the cold conditions.
`Further enquiries are ongoing by the GLA, Police and UKBA’.