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