Dame Sara Thornton knows just how chilling a slave’s fear of their abusers can be.
After members of the UK’s largest-ever modern slavery ring were jailed in 2019, she met a victim who had been trafficked from Poland to the West Midlands along with more than 400 others. Many had been homeless and were tricked to come to the UK, where they were placed in rat-infested housing.
They were forced to work in farms, factories, waste-recycling plants and parcel-sorting warehouses. Their products were sold by leading retailers and bought by unsuspecting British shoppers – while they received as little as £10 for three weeks’ work because their wages were funnelled into the gang’s bank accounts – allowing one of the criminals to own a Bentley.
Their plight only came to light when two victims fled in 2015. “They were living in the most appalling conditions,” says Dame Sara, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The victim she met was “absolutely terrified” of his captors.
New to her role at the time, Dame Sara wanted to better understand how a grown man can be taken from one European country to another and not feel able to escape back home, to a country that is only a few hours away on a cheap flight. “I said: ‘Did you think about going back to Poland?’ And he said: “I asked to go back, I pleaded with them to go back, but this guy said: ‘The only way you’re going back to Poland is in pieces in the boot of my car’.”
The original full article can be found at inews.co.uk