‘We aren’t slaves’, 100 migrant workers protest arrest of their boss
More than 100 migrant flower pickers protested outside a police station to say they were not victims of slavery.
The huge crowd of workers gathered to demand the release of their boss from an alleged slave farm in Cornwall following a police raid on Thursday.
More than 200 people were found during a police swoop on R H Scrimshaw and Sons farm on Thursday morning.
Three men, aged 61, 41 and 49, were arrested on modern day slavery charges.
Two female workers and 12 men, from Romania and Lithuania, requested assistance and were taken to a safe place for further care in Manaccan, Cornwall.
But a large group of workers from Bosahan Farm headed to Camborne police station, where their boss was held.
One of the arrested men, known as ‘Wolf’, was then released by police at around 10pm.
Marin Alina-Florentina, from Romania, as one of the few fluent English speakers, spoke on behalf of the group who said all worked and lived in caravans on the farm.
She said: ‘Our boss has been arrested and we think he has done nothing wrong. We have very good conditions.
‘I’ve been working here for four years. If it was bad I wouldn’t work here, we wouldn’t bring our friends and families here.’
‘We stay on the farm. Without our boss we don’t have any work. We’ve not been told anything. We just know the boss is under arrest.’
Detective Inspector Gail Windsor said: ‘We’ve visited approximately 200 migrant workers this morning, a mixture of Romanian and Lithuanian, and out of that 14 asked for assistance in leaving the site.
‘They have been taken to a reception centre where there is Salvation Army, Police, NHS, Cornwall Council and the Red Cross.
‘There people will be interviewed and assessed for their needs and whether any criminal offences have taken place.
‘Our understanding is that these are seasonal workers and that the season is between January and Easter. We believe they’ve been recruited in their native countries.
‘Over the last couple of weeks we had information that made us concerned about the people working on this site and the conditions they were living and working in.’
A representative of Bosaran and Halvose farm, which operates under the name R H Scrimshaw and Sons, declined to comment on the raid.
Cornwall Council is providing welfare and support for the 14 people who have elected to seek help through a process called the National Referral Mechanism.