Hope for Justice has today welcomed the sentencing of a slavery gang for a total of 32 years for trafficking and exploiting vulnerable people. Our specialist teams have been involved with this case since the start.
Hope for Justice CEO, Ben Cooley, said: “Sentences like these send a message that these crimes will not stand and that slavery will not be tolerated in our communities. So this is a great result for the victims; they’re safe now, and their traffickers are in prison.
“Some of the details of the abuse and exploitation suffered by the victims are truly shocking. We’re proud to have worked alongside the police and other agencies on this groundbreaking case.
“We’re working all over the UK and across three continents to achieve more results like this, bringing an end to modern slavery by rescuing victims, restoring lives and reforming society.”
Judge Stephen Ashurst was quoted by The Chronicle as saying: “Throughout the ages, vulnerable people have been exploited and, despite the efforts of reforms over the country to outlaw slavery, it has not been eradicated and it continues to thrive in various parts of the world. Sadly, as this case demonstrated, the exploitation of such people continues in our own country.”
Speaking to the gang directly, Judge Ashurst said: “What you did was to create what has been called tents. In other words, large, unfurnished properties, which you either let or sublet from other landlords. These were very basic affairs, often without any modern facilities, and there was a body of evidence to show those placed in tents were at a very considerable disadvantage.
“All were required to scavenge for items and there was compelling evidence as to how they had to roam the streets looking for discarded mattresses.”
Jim Hope, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said after their conviction last week: “The treatment of the victims and the conditions in which they were made to live were truly appalling. Once this group became aware of the police investigation, they made a calculated effort to remove or destroy any evidence linking them to this case. Despite their attempts, the CPS worked closely with detectives to build a complete picture of the scale and scope of their criminal operations. The Crown Prosecution Service will continue to work alongside its criminal justice partners to tackle cases of modern slavery.”
Below details courtesy Northumbria Police:
Four men have today (May 30) been sentenced to a total of 32 years for their part in a conspiracy which saw significant numbers of Polish nationals trafficked to the UK to be exploited as modern slaves.
Sebastian Mandzik, Robert Majewski, Pawel Majewski and Seweryn Szymt were all involved in a large scale operation which transported vulnerable people into the country on the promise of well-paid work. The victims were housed in cramped conditions and forced into menial labour, with their wages being paid into specially set up bank accounts over which the criminal group had complete control. Any resistance on the part of their victims was met with violence and intimidation by the gang.
Sebastian Mandzik was sentenced to a total of 12 years (seven concurrent for counts one, two and three) and five years consecutive for money laundering;
Robert Majewski: a total eight years (five years counts one and two, and three years for money laundering);
Pawel Majewski: total seven years (four years and three years for money laundering);
Seweryn Szymt: total five years.
Detective Superintendent Steve Barron said: “Protecting vulnerable people is my absolute priority and I’m pleased these men have been jailed for exploiting vulnerable people who were coerced into the country on the promise of well-paid work. Unfortunately, once here they were forced to live in horrible conditions and carry out work for little or no pay. This investigation has been a genuine multi-agency effort which has helped make the victims of this offending safe and punish those responsible.
“The victims are now in safe locations and are being supported by specialists from partner agencies and our officers.
“Sadly we know this is an increasing issue not just here in Northumbria but across the country and continent. This sort of exploitation is simply not acceptable and I hope this sends a warning to those who think they can exploit other people that we are out to catch them and they will ultimately end up in jail. It is important that we work together with not only our partners but the community. We all have a responsibility to help protect those who may be vulnerable and we believe that Safeguarding is everyone’s business. We urge people to be the eyes and ears of the community and if you see something suspicious or something that doesn’t feel right then please report it to police.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, said: “We take human trafficking and exploitation very seriously. We all need to be vigilant in spotting the signs – so if something doesn’t seem right, the chances are it’s not. I will ensure Northumbria Police continues to be proactive in tackling this very important issue.”