WMP secures ‘landmark’ court order against modern slavery landlord

West Midlands Police has secured a ‘landmark’ court order against a landlord who turned a blind eye to the suffering of hundreds of victims of modern-day slavery being housed in his properties.

Mar 3, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Kashmir Singh Binning

Kashmir Singh Binning leased three Birmingham properties to a Polish gang that trafficked up to 400 vulnerable people from their homeland and forced them to work for a pittance on farms and rubbish recycling centres.

The victims were housed in squalid conditions in properties across the West Midlands, fed out-of-date food and forced to scavenge for dumped mattresses to sleep on.

At some properties there were no working toilets, heating, furniture or hot water and some victims told how they were forced to wash in canals. Three such properties were owned by Singh Binning.

One, located on Queen’s Head Road, was largely gutted by a fire in December 2015. Two tenants were hospitalised and a fire safety report revealed the house had no smoke detectors or fire doors and was home to several Polish nationals, despite tenancy documents showing it was leased to one person with no scope for sub-letting.

Binning did not co-operate with the council’s enquiry and also failed to act on anti-social behaviour concerns at his properties or carry out remedial work when inspectors found widespread mould and damp at another property he controlled on Victoria Road.

In August 2016 detectives investigating the Polish trafficking ring advised Binning that his properties were being used to accommodate slavery victims. Despite this warning he continued to rent properties to the group.

The 40-year-old’s phone records were later analysed and showed lots of messages between him and the convicted traffickers, including Ignacy Brzezinski who played a lead role in the conspiracy.

Last Friday (February 28), a judge granted the order – the first of its kind ever secured under Modern Slavery legislation – which runs until 2025 and binds Binning by various conditions.

They include not to accept cash payments from tenants, agree to property inspections every three months, and to provide the local authority with signed tenancy agreements containing details of all occupants.

Binning – who has six properties in his name, plus seven more registered to family members – faces being jailed if he ignores the order.

Detective Sergeant Mike Wright was part of the Operation Fort team whose investigation led to eight members of the Polish gang being jailed for a combined total of 55 years.

He said: “Binning’s role was pivotal to the group being able to house victims easily, quickly and at affordable cost. He was friends with some of the suspects and willing to turn a blind eye.

“He claimed he had no idea people housed in his properties were being exploited… but all the evidence suggested otherwise. This order shows how seriously we and the courts take the safeguarding of vulnerable people; the judge was very supportive and told Binning he was lucky the order didn’t ban him from letting properties at all.

“Modern slavery is seen as a crime hidden in plain sight. However, offenders rely on individuals and organisations to overlook the degrading and inhumane treatment of human beings.

“Most private landlords are responsible and keep properties safe and free from health hazards. I hope this order shows we will not allow landlords to put their tenants at risk and facilitate slavery offences.”

Binning was also told he must pay £14,000 in court costs.

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