Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wealthy Foreigners Face 'Spot Checks' on Domestic Staff to Stamp out Slavery

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wealthy Foreigners Face 'Spot Checks' on Domestic Staff to Stamp out Slavery

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

WEALTHY foreigners who bring domestic staff from abroad to work in London could face "spot checks" at their homes under new plans to stamp out modern slavery.

The inspections, paid for by a hike in visa fees, would be carried out by an enforcement team charged with ensuring cooks, nannies, cleaners and other workers are not being mistreated.

It follows concern that some servants in "exclusive" parts of London are suffering "shocking" exploitation that they are too scared or unable to report.

Others are believed to be unaware they can seek help. Some victims have attempted suicide, while others have been subjected to sexual harassment, physical attacks and death threats.

The potential introduction of home checks was disclosed by the Government's anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland in an interview with the Standard. The former Scotland Yard detective, appointed to his new role by Home Secretary Theresa May, said that about 17,000 domestic servants were brought to Britain from abroad each year, and some were suffering a "shockingly terrible" existence.

He said proposals for tackling the problem were being drawn up for the Home Office by barrister James Ewins, a specialist in modern slavery cases, and a new system of home visits and other checks was being considered.

Mr Hyland added: "Having such a high number of foreign nationals who come here with domestic staff creates a highrisk industry. These are people taken very often into wealthy households in very expensive parts of London and the UK, and once the door is closed, it's closed. There needs to be a process that makes sure people are checked up on and they know what their rights are.

"Many are quite happy, but some have a shockingly terrible experience. There's far too many who do get abused." He said enforcement could take place "when they enter, whilst they are in the country and also when they leave. Whether that's people going round checking or whether the people have to go in somewhere, that's something that needs to be considered. You need to have that ability to do that: the spot checks and so on."

'Some domestic staff shockingly terrible experience.

There's too " Domestic worker visas cost PS250 and are available for staff accompanying overseas residents, including Britons, who come to live here for six months or fewer. Mr Hyland said many servants -- who include chauffeurs, personal assistants, cleaners, and cooks -- were from countries where poor treatment was sometimes accepted.

who abused' Kevin anti-slavery commissioner "People working as domestics often see themselves as having no rights. They will be working for very wealthy families and come from regions of the world where there is poverty and where there is a caste system or similar and where you are a person without status. …

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