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2013 (Narrative date)

The UK National Crime Agency estimates 3,309 potential victims of human trafficking came into contact with the State or an NGO in 2014. The latest government statistics derived from the UK National Referral Mechanism in 2014 reveal 2,340 potential victims of trafficking from 96 countries of origin, of whom 61 percent were female and 29 percent were children.

Liubo and his wife Biatka found themselves sin debt bondage after accepting work on a farm in Scotland. Their story demonstrates the challenges that survivors of slavery face, even once they have escaped, as they are often left unsupported and without legal status in the destination country.

I am Liubo from Poland, my wife - Biatka, and our daughter - Cristi. We were struggling financially and were offered work on a Scottish farm. When we arrived we were given a room in a barn with insects and rats, one mattress on the ground for all of us, no loo. The rent was £700, but the money from working on the farm was insufficient. Our debt went on growing. To pay for it the traffickers obtained a bank loan for us, which they then controlled. Their plan was to claim and keep the state benefits which were due to our daughter. The farm owner was linked to a Polish network that regularly transported people to Britain. One day we managed to escape. The traffickers caught up with us. They tried to force us into their car and punched me in the face. The police were called. We were saved. We are now penniless, we don’t speak English and we are worse off than ever before. 

As told to the Human Trafficking Foundation