Dr. Alex Trautrims of Nottingham University said slaves are a “key source of income” for criminal gangs
A woman of Chinese origin was sold into the sex trade by her husband. She is among 140 suspected victims of slavery in the East Midlands.
There have been 24 Nottinghamshire “slaves” identified by police, according to a Freedom of Information request.
The request indicated that the 140 modern slaves had been found by police in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, during a period from January 2014 to the end of 2016.
The victims included children, one who was 14 and another 15-year-old Albanian boy who was forced to work as a pickpocket in Nottingham. One woman was forced to pay off a debt by working in the sex trade and was told her family would be killed if she did not co-operate.
A 42-year-old Lincolnshire man was found in “a drunken state” by some men who offered him paid work and accommodation but only paid him £20 a day and gave him little food or drink. He eventually witnessed another victim being badly beaten and escaped at night.
Dr. Alex Trautrims a researcher at the University of Nottingham, said: “Modern slavery is one of the key income sources for serious organized crime. Slaves are cheaper today than ever before in human history. It is clearly a very profitable business for any modern criminal. You use physical abuse – you lock people away in houses and they cannot walk away.”
Steve Buxton is a Red Cross volunteer who delivers supplies to some victims. “It is a really life-changing moment for some people because they have literally just the rags they are standing up in. A basic item like toothpaste can make such a difference to an individual who has nothing of their own.”