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Mark (Narrative 2)

2012 (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. Migrant workers in the UK are subjected to forced labour in agriculture, cannabis cultivation, construction, food processing, factories, domestic service, nail salons, food services, car washes, and on fishing boats. In Northern Ireland, migrants from Albania and Romania are particularly vulnerable to forced labour, including in agricultural work. Mark was forced to work under conditions of slavery in the UK, the Netherlands, and Sweden. He was rescued by the Swedish police.

I was unemployed. I had no income whatsoever. I guy pulled up to me in a car, quite an expensive car. He said that as well as working, he’d give me somewhere to stay. He’d provide food for me. He’d try to make me as comfortable as possible and he’d pay me 50 pounds a day.

Then my boss decided to go up to the site that his family lives on and there everything went very quickly downhill. He stopped paying me anything at all. We were working up to 15 hours a day. And it’s very, very physical work, very, very heavy work.

There were a lot of broken looking people. There was no rest. Every waking minute of every day was spent working somehow. There were, I’d say around 20 other workers on the site who were working for other members of my boss’ family.

They were physically punished for the slightest little thing. They would beat them for not working fast enough. I’ve seen people attacked with work tools, with spades, with pick axes.

They have their heads shaved. They live 15 men in a horse box.

It was very much like a concentration camp. A lot of them were extremely hopeless. There were guys that had been there for five years or more who’d given up all hope. They couldn’t see any way to leave. They’d seen people try to run away in the past and always, every single time, a day later or two days later, they’d be dragged back.

By the time I was 24 years old, I have a decent education. I'm physically fit. How could this happen to me, sort of thing. It’s really, really difficult for people to understand that it could happen to anybody. It just requires somebody’s circumstances to change that things get worse for them that they’re able to kind of land in that situation. Absolutely anybody it could happen to.

As told to the European Commission