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. Of those identified through the NRM, the majority were adults classified as victims of sexual exploitation followed by adults exploited in the domestic service sector and other types of labour exploitation. The largest proportion of victims was from Albania, followed by Nigeria, Vietnam, Romania and Slovakia.
In 2009 Artem, a 56-year-old Hungarian, was working as a builder and bus driver. The recession left him unemployed, homeless, and supporting his elderly mother. Duped by false promises he came to the UK. He was forced to live in a small house with 25 men, working 70 hours per week for £10. He escaped, living in disused garages but was re-trafficked twice and was too afraid to leave for fear of becoming homeless again. Artem was found by police after a failed suicide attempt. He was identified as a victim of human trafficking and moved to safe accommodation in Birmingham in 2014.
I studied there, I finished my schooling there, I got my driving licence there (Hungary). I’ve already been driving for a very very long time, so I’d studied for nothing, I’ve never working in my area of study. I’ve driven buses, trucks, various cars. But work stopped after a while, I’ve become homeless back at home too.
The offer by the Hungarian Gypsy to come here to England, there’ll be work here, there’ll be a flat, there’ll be everything. Well, I almost came to regret it too. The first four years were terribly difficult here in England.
I hoped for justice, contacted Jericho, started a Jericho job in last year, end of August, I don’t know. A volunteer job in a shop. Last year, last year, October I started a full time job. It’s nice and light. Very good feeling, very free. Now I’m just living my life. It’s better.
As told to the Jericho Foundation