In R v Markowski two brothers, who arranged for 18 vulnerable people to travel to the UK before stealing the majority of their wages, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to arrange travel with a view to exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. They were sentenced to six years each for their exploitation.
The brothers, Erwin and Krystian Markowski, identified targets in their native Poland with the help of 'spotters', offering travel, work and accommodation. The people they targeted were generally jobless or in need of money. The victims received coach tickets and were housed in squalid accommodation in Nottingham before being taken to an employment agency, Transline. Through the agency, they were given work in a Sports Direct warehouse.
A spokesperson for Sports Direct said: “We welcome the conviction of these two individuals, who were brought to justice after being reported to police by the Transline agency and Sports Direct in February 2016. It sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.”
A spokesperson for Transline said: “These two brothers have no association to Transline,” adding that the firm had reported complaints of exploitation related to the case to the police.
Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS East Midlands, said: "Modern slavery is a global issue that often goes unseen, but prosecutors and police are determined to take all possible steps to hold those responsible to account, regardless of borders.”
We are likely to see an increasing number of successful prosecutions as a result of the Government’s commitment to eradicate modern slavery in the UK. This case is a reminder of the public relations and brand damage that can be caused to commercial organisations by not undertaking appropriate Modern Slavery Act due diligence in their supply chain. Employment agencies need to be particularly vigilant.