Human trafficking spreads to Eastern England Farms

Human trafficking spreads to Eastern England Farms

An increasing number of human trafficking victims are working in the region�s fields, according to the head of the government agency in the frontline fight against slavery.

Margaret McKinlay, chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), warned human trafficking had expanded beyond the urban sex trade to rural parts of Norfolk and the region.

In her first newspaper interview since taking charge of the GLA, which was set up to curb agricultural worker exploitation after the 2004 Morecambe Bay disaster, she told the EDP: �Our sense is there is more happening. We are picking up people in the east of the country.�

Ms McKinlay revealed the GLA had referred 38 cases to the Serious Organised Crime Agency�s Human Trafficking Centre in the last 12 months � up from four in 2009.

Eight of the 38 cases were in the eastern region and all were east European workers.

The nine-fold increase in reports made by the GLA to the Human Trafficking Centre was described by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss as �shocking�.

Ms Truss, who is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, said: �This problem has spread from being mainly concentrated in urban areas and now it is spreading to rural areas.

�They are brought into a country where they don�t understand the language and are cut off from the rest of society. There is a great deal of fear in reporting anything to the authorities. It is so important to raise awareness locally.�

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