A crooked fast food restaurant owner from the north of England has been jailed for eight and a half years after being found guilty of forcing vulnerable alcoholics to work for little or no pay.
Harjit Bariana compelled his victims to toil in slave-like conditions for up to 13 hours a day in exchange for scraps of food, alcohol and drugs.
Bariana, who confiscated the men’s clothing and shoes in a bid to prevent them from fleeing, would violently assault his victims if they refused to carry out his instructions, and would routinely ply them with diazepam, Valium and cheap alcohol to keep them addicted and under his control.
The 46-year-old was jailed today after previously being convicted at Newcastle Crown Court of six modern slavery offences against four people and of supplying diazepam.
Sentencing Bariana, Judge Sarah Mallett said: “This was, in my view, commercial exploitation. Your business model was largely predicated on free labour and the most minimal expenditure into your business to extract the maximum profit.
“You exploited their vulnerability by way of addiction, you fed and encouraged their addiction to alcohol and, on occasions, drugs.”
A woman who lived close to the shared property where Bariana kept the men told the court how she would hear him screaming at them, and how he would regularly show up with large men to intimidate his victims.
One man who was forced to work in two of Bariana’s restaurants every day for five months described how he was handed scraps of food to eat at the end of each shift, along with a bottle of spirits such as whisky, which he would have to pay for.
Another victim described how he worked in Bariana’s restaurants for 10 hours a day without pay, and was given two litres of cider at the end of each shift.
Bariana forced his victims to apply for welfare benefits to pay for their rent, and used their vulnerability and need to keep a roof over their heads to bully them into doing whatever he asked of them.
The takeaway boss, who has previous convictions for dishonesty, illegal money lending, selling counterfeit goods and making threats, could now face a Proceeds of Crime hearing that could see him stripped of his assets.
During the trial, Christopher Knox, prosecuting, said: “[The defendant] exploited people who he knew were vulnerable in all cases because they were either homeless, or near homeless, they had drug or alcohol dependencies or both.
“They were in practical terms people at a low ebb and were easily bullied, coerced and forced to do work.
“Not at the end of a pitchfork or gun, but by coercion of one form or another.”
No-deal Brexit could hit UK’s ability to tackle organised crime and terrorism, police warn
The UK’s ability to tackle terrorism sand serious organised crime will be severely hampered by a hard Brexit, British police chiefs have warned.
Pulling out of the EU without a deal could see UK law enforcement agencies and security services lose access to vital crime-fighting tools such as the European Arrest Warrant, the Schengen Information System, the bloc’s intelligence systems and data held by Europol.
Announcing a new £2 million ($2.6 million) unit that will explore how alternative systems could be used if no deal is struck between the EU and Britain before the end of next March, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Sara Thornton said: “The fallbacks we’re going to have to use will be slower, will be more bureaucratic and it will make it harder for us to protect UK citizens and make it harder to protect EU citizens.”
“We are determined to do everything we can to mitigate that, but it will be hard.”
Using the recent Salisbury Novichok attack as an example of how a no-deal Brexit could impact UK police operations, Thornton noted how much more difficult it would be for Britain to detain the two men suspected of carrying it out should they enter the EU without a European Arrest Warrant in place.
The new unit will examine the effectiveness of non-EU crime fighting institutions and mechanisms, such as Interpol, bilateral channels and Council of Europe conventions.
In a statement on the contingency plans, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said the withdrawal of resources such as the European Criminal Records Information System and the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Crime Threats would seriously impact Britain’s ability “to track criminals’ movements, monitor sex offenders and locate fugitives”.
“European law enforcement is more effective when we take coordinated action against shared priorities,” said Steve Rodhouse, NCA Director General of Operations.
“A lack of access to these European tools would mean a reduction in the ability of the UK to contribute to keeping Europe safe.”
In May, the Times of London reported that France had attempted to block British attempts to remain part of EU security systems after Brexit, quoting one UK government official as saying: “Normally France is quite helpful when it comes to security co-operation but on this they are being awkward.”
Western Balkans crackdown on organised criminals sees people smugglers, drug traffickers and arms dealers rounded up
A Europol-backed operation targeting criminals across the Western Balkans has resulted in the arrest of people smugglers, drug traffickers, gun dealers and document fraudsters.
A number of Joint Action Days (JADs) coordinated by Europol, Frontex and Interpol involving 8,300 officers from 28 countries saw 180 people arrested, and the seizure of 159 firearms, explosives and 286kgs of drugs.
Throughout the operation, which took place between 5 and 9 September, investigators checked more than 482,000 people, vehicles, premises and parcels against existing crime databases.
Every country across the Western Balkan took part in the operation, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
Twenty EU Member States were also involved in the effort, which was supported in addition by Switzerland and the US.
As a result of the operation, police have started 21 fresh investigations into a number of crimes, with more probes expected to be launched soon.
The total number of arrests made will most likely rise as a consequence.
In a statement, Europol said: “From 5 to 9 September 2018, a coordination centre was set up at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague.
“It was attended by 44 officers from the majority of the participating countries, Frontex, Interpol.
“Fifty-six representatives from Frontex accompanied officers on the ground. The preparatory phase began in early 2018 with several operational meetings and intelligence-gathering activities.
“During this phase, several hundred pieces of information (persons, phone numbers, documents, etc.) were exchanged between all partners, 32 suspects were arrested, 102 firearms seized and 60 houses searched.”
News of the operation was made public after a meeting in Belgrade during which Serbian officials and representatives from Interpol discussed how they could work together to reduce crime.
Interpol President Meng Hongwei met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Minister of the Interior Nebojša Stefanović during a three-day trip to Belgrade last week.
After discussing a range of security issues, President Meng said: “Serbia has been actively supporting Interpol’s initiatives and is playing a key role regarding security in the region.
“We will continue to maintain a high degree of cooperation to deal with all forms of transnational crimes, including emerging crimes.”
Speaking after a meeting with President Meng, Serbian Internal Affairs Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said his country’s police force had arrested 149 people on Interpol warrants so far this year.
Stefanovic added that Serbia intends to introduce more efficient procedures to improve its crime-fighting cooperation with other countries.
Nike’s ‘menacing’ balaclava prompts criticism the firm is cashing in on violent UK gang culture
US sportswear maker Nike has been slammed in the UK after critics accused it of attempting to market a balaclava to young people using gang-related imagery.
The Nike x MMW balaclava, which seems to have been withdrawn from sale in Britain since the furore first arose yesterday evening, features straps that resemble gun holsters, which campaigners claim is likely to appeal to young people attracted to violent drill rap music.
While the garment is ostensibly intended to keep athletes warm while they train in cold temperatures, UK marketing material for the balaclava features a young black man wearing it over a t-shirt, in images that campaigners have suggested is intended to appeal to young people looking to emulate the appearance of drill rap artists who post videos featuring violent lyrics on social media.
The balaclava, which Nike claims is sold in various markets, was designed by Matthew Williams, whose website describes his designs as “aggressively elegant”.
Paul McKenzie, who often comments on issues affecting London’s black community, took to Facebook to say: “You know these young people on the street adore these manufacturers, they buy everything that they sell.
“We look at images of young people on the street and they look menacing already, and so Nike decides to bring out a balaclava range which looks absolutely menacing. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I’m a dinosaur, but this balaclava range looks quite [insightful].”
Ex-gang member turned youth worker Chris Preddie called for a Nike boycott, saying: “We always keep blaming our young people. The young people are killing each other.
“But who’s making sure that they’ve got equipment to get away with it? Who’s making sure their face is covered?”
In a statement, Nike said: “We are in no way condoning or encouraging the serious issue of criminal and gang culture.”
Various companies have been accused of profiting from UK gang culture and drill rap music, both of which have been linked to a huge rise in violent crime across Britain and multiple murders.
While YouTube took down various drill rap videos at the request of the Metropolitan Police earlier this year, streaming services such as Apple and Spotify have been criticised for making money from violent drill rap songs on their platforms.
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9 February 2018
9 February 2018
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