Modern day slavery
Representational ImageMAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images

An Indian-origin lecturer and her husband have been arrested in the United Kingdom for allegedly keeping a Polish builder as a slave in their garden shed for four years.

Pritpal Binning and her husband Palvinder Binning are said to have forced the man to work in their house in Hampshire for food. Pritpal is said to be a lecturer in health sciences at the University of Southampton.

The couple was arrested when the UK's Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) raided their property on October 30.

The GLAA officials said that they were acting on a tip-off from the staff of an NHS walk-in centre in Southampton, who told them that a frail looking Polish man had visited the centre and told them that he was being forced to work by the couple, reported Independent.

The man, said to be in his 40s, also told the officials that he lived in a shed, slept on a plastic sun lounger, and had a fridge and a barbecue for a kitchen. He also said that he didn't even have a flushing toilet.

The GLAA officials are now investigating the matter and going through the evidence that they have collected. "In the 21st century, no-one should be forced to live in such degrading and disgusting conditions," the daily quoted GLAA senior investigating officer Tony Byrne as saying.

"Following the two arrests we made, our investigation is ongoing as we examine and assess the evidence we collected from the property. There's a large amount of building work being undertaken which corroborates what victim had said.

"There's no sanitary conditions, no toilet, there's no bedding. It's poor conditions that that individual had been living in for the last four years."

The official also revealed that the victim was now receiving assistance and has been taken into the government's national referral mechanism that supports victims of human trafficking and modern slavery.

He lauded the NHS staff for being vigilant and reporting the matter to GLAA. "They spotted the signs he was vulnerable, he wasn't responding as expected, and they reported findings to us."

The couple has now been released pending further investigation.