'I was afraid to go out on the street': victim of modern slavery speaks out

'I was afraid to go out on the street': victim of modern slavery speaks out
Rafal, a victim of modern slavery, with his wife Agnieczka and one of his two young children. Pic via Sky News

A victim of modern slavery in England has told of how he was "afraid to go out on the street" when his family was being exploited.

Rafal, his wife Agnieczka and their two young children were rescued from an upstairs flat in the Midlands in the UK where they were visited daily by their oppressors.

The Polish family were "controlled psychologically" and victims of "forced criminality", the charity Hope for Justice told Sky News, which accompanied it on a series of rescues.

They had been surviving on £10 a week each for months, reliant on soup kitchens while their exploiter pocketed their wages and child benefit.

Rafal told the broadcaster: "Our first priority was our kids.

"We were worried for their safety, I was always looking through the window and looking at the phone. When I don't answer he would call us 15 times a day.

Rafal, a victim of modern slavery, with his wife Agnieczka and their two young children. Pic via Sky News
Rafal, a victim of modern slavery, with his wife Agnieczka and their two young children. Pic via Sky News

"I wouldn't call that a life. I was afraid to go out on the street."

He added: "I was afraid of him and I didn't know what to say to the police and I didn't know what he would do if he found out."

The family are said to have become trapped after they agreed to let a stranger use their address temporarily to help them get a doctor's appointment.

Dozens of letters followed, and the couple were introduced to a man who made increasing demands, stole their identity cards and forced Agnieczka to open fake bank accounts.

After meeting a member of Hope for Justice at a food bank, the family were rescued, and have since been moved to a safe house hundreds of miles away.

The charity describes the situation in the UK as "a human conveyor belt of slavery".

Retired detective Gary Booth, who leads the Hope for Justice team, told Sky News: "From a trafficker's perspective they look at a family as a commodity and each member of that family is a means of earning money, illegitimate money.

"He has dehumanised the parents and clearly that has a knock-on effect with the children.

"One of their parting comments to my colleagues today was that their life hasn't been worth living for the past six months."


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