Lancashire

Lancashire human trafficking victim 'smuggled at gunpoint'

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Media captionTrafficking victim 'smuggled at gunpoint'

A boy who was threatened with a gun by human traffickers bringing him from Vietnam to the UK said he was scared he would be shot if he ran away.

The 15-year-old is one of nearly 300 people identified by the National Crime Agency as potential trafficking victims in north-west England last year.

Lancashire Police believe the boy, named only as Sang, was to be used as a modern slave on a cannabis farm.

Despite his fears, he did escape and is now in foster care.

'Greater awareness'

Two hundred and ninety two people were identified as potential trafficking victims in the North West in 2018, compared with 42 in 2014.

Across the UK, 7,000 potential victims were identified in 2018, compared with 2,340 in 2014.

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The National Police Chiefs' Council said: "The increase in referrals of potential victims of slavery and trafficking is undoubtedly the result of greater awareness, understanding and reporting of modern slavery and that is something to be welcomed.

"However, it remains likely these figures represent only a snapshot of the true scale of the problem in the UK."

'Just for money'

Sang said he had been tricked by people traffickers and forced on to a plane, then hidden on lorries with other victims.

"I don't want what happened to me to happen to someone else, because it's horrible.

"They just do it for the money. They are just lying to people.

"I don't know what happened to the people I was trafficked with," he said.

Many victims of human trafficking are forced into the sex trade.

Twenty people were convicted of sex trafficking offences in just over 12 months, according to Lancashire Constabulary's East Lancashire Exploitation Team.

Image caption A diary kept by a victim of human trafficking who was forced into the sex trade

You can see more on this story on BBC North West Tonight on BBC One at 18:30 GMT on Thursday 14 March and for 28 days afterwards on the BBC iPlayer.

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