A police force has apologised and paid compensation to an enslaved maid after officers failed to believe her story and sent her back to her wealthy middle-class abusers.
Hertfordshire police admitted that it had failed to protect the 40-year-old woman despite her pleas for help – and even used one of her slave masters to act as an interpreter when she tried to tell how she had suffered years of abuse while passed around three families.
When police declined to help and returned her to the family, the victim was attacked and told she would be buried in the back garden of the wealthy couple’s multimillion pound home for spoiling their name.
Three people were finally convicted in April after the case was investigated by another force after years of horrific abuse at three different homes that saw her beaten and raped.
The Hertfordshire force became involved after the woman was forced to work as a slave at a £2m house on the exclusive private Moor Park estate.
Optician Shashi Obhrai forced the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to work for 17 hours a day, seven days a week and then threatened her at knifepoint after she went to the police. Her husband Balram, an IT consultant, was initially charged but did not stand trial for health reasons.
However, the victim’s accusations were ignored and her case was only taken seriously after two charities passed on the details to Scotland Yard’s specialist trafficking unit, which helped to secure a conviction.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reason, received the apology last week. “I am writing to convey my sincere apologies for Hertfordshire Constabulary’s failures in relation to your allegations of forced domestic labour made in 2008,” the force said in the letter obtained by the rights charity Liberty.