3,000 foreign national arrests in Northants not a sign people are coming over to '˜murder us in our beds' says equality expert
An equal rights campaigner says modern day slavery could be a major contributor to the huge arrest rate for foreign nationals in Northamptonshire.
Recent figures revealed by the BBC show that 2,895 foreign nationals were arrested in Northamptonshire in the year to March.
Of those the most were from Eastern Europe. A total of 18.1 per cent were from Poland, with 14.3 per cent coming from Romania and 8.8 per cent from Latvia.
But Anjona Roy, of the Northampton Rights and Equality Council, says the figures are indicative of a deeper problem - modern day slavery.
She said the figures are high nationally because many are being employed illegally in agriculture, in the sex trade or cannabis farming against their will.
“There is a direct link to modern day slavery here,” referring to the Northamptonshire arrest figures.
“We are talking about people who are vulnerable, getting into companies that are offering them housing, employment, lots of different things.
“Then in return they are making them work in conditions that no one else would work in. “They are being told that if you are trying to stand up for yourself no one will believe you.”
Ms Roy, whose organisation works to fight for human rights, believes modern day slavery is going on every day in Northamptonshire and not for the first time.
In 2008, 60 workers from Eastern Europe were believed to have been trafficked over to live in Northamptonshire and work picking leeks in a field near Holbeach, Lincolnshire.
Ms Roy continued: “Whether they are trafficked here, or whether they are offered a ‘job’ by a friend of a friend, the vast majority of these people are vulnerable individuals finding themselves on the wrong side of the law.”
A national police operation this week, Operation Trivium, has seen a number of foreign nationals face deportation for criminal offences committed in their home countries.
Northamptonshire Police has been taking part in the operation.
But Ms Roy believes that is not a sign those foreign nationals are likely to commit further offences in the UK.
“I’m sure if you go to the Costa Del Sol, you will find plenty of ex-pats with criminal offences,” she said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean they are out to commit crime where they are now.
“It doesn’t mean they are coming over to murder us in our beds.”