We're not slaves, more than 100 migrant workers say as they launch protest at arrest of farm bosses

Nicola Harley
The crowd of more than 100 workers took to the streets to demand the release of their employer following a police raid on the farm where they had been working.   - Cornwall Live / SWNS.com

Migrant flower pickers have been protesting outside a police station after officers "rescued" them from an alleged slave farm.

The crowd of more than 100 workers took to the streets to demand the release of their employer following a police raid on the farm where they had been working.

Three men were arrested on slavery charges following the dawn raid on R H Scrimshaw and Sons' farm in Cornwall.

More than 200 migrant workers have been working on the farm picking daffodils.

More than 200 migrant workers have been working on the farm picking daffodils.   Credit: SWNS.com

Following the raid on Thursday, many of them took a bus to the Camborne police station to demonstrate.

Marin Alina-Florentina, from Romania, said they all worked and lived in caravans on the farm.

"Our boss has been arrested and we think he has done nothing wrong. We have very good conditions," she said.

''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."

She said the group all worked picking flowers for up to nine hours a day depending on the weather.

She added: "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."

Migrant flower pickers have been protesting outside a police station after officers "rescued" them from an alleged slave farm.   Credit: SWNS.com

The raid led to three men, aged 61, 41 and 49, being arrested on modern day slavery charges.

They have since been released under investigation pending further inquiries.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, who is also the National Police Chiefs Council's lead for modern slavery, added: "There were reports into police of alleged offences of modern slavery. There comes a point where we have to intervene.

"We have seen in Cornwall that there is exploitation of migrant workers by organised crime."

He described the protest as "legitimate democracy".

"Why wouldn't those, who don't understand, want to go to a British police station and express their views? That is democracy," he added.

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.

Detective Inspector Gail Windsor said: "We've visited approximately 200 migrant workers, 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."

The Bosahan Farm, Manaccan, Helston, Cornwall, which was raided by police.  Credit: SWNS.com

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 to 14 of the workers.

It said: "The people being supported are not in trouble and they are not being detained. They are free to leave at any time but will be encouraged to take up the offers of help that are available.

"All agencies are working together to help the alleged victims over the next 72 hours, after which an assessment will be carried out to decide next steps."

The daffodil farm is one of the largest in the UK and is responsible for transporting around 60 million stems a season worldwide.

Workers on the farm are paid 8p per bunch of flowers picked, its best picker earns up to £240 a day.

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