A man in his 40s, brought to Britain as an infant and sold to a pedophile ring, was formally recognized as a victim of modern slavery by the country's Home Office—and is now facing deportation as an "illegal immigrant." Yet in a statement, a Home Office official wrote that he hopes the sex trafficking victim is "pleased with the positive decision" in his case. It's just one of the disturbing stories recounted in BuzzFeed's investigation into rampant modern slavery in Britain, still a huge problem despite the Home Office considering it one of the country's top priorities. Theresa May introduced a law in 2015 intended to stop human traffickers and help their hundreds of victims, but the law has cracks that victims often fall through—particularly because many victims came to Britain from elsewhere, and May has also pledged to make the country a "hostile environment" for illegal immigrants.
Another victim whose story BuzzFeed recounts came to Britain from Poland in 1986 looking for work, and ended up falling into slavery and becoming trapped when one of his masters stole his identification documents. As he was traded from master to master over three decades, he endured beatings, hard labor for little or no pay, and insufficient food. Under May's 2015 law, he came forward to authorities and gained victim status—but since he could not prove "gainful employment" while he'd been in Britain, he faced deportation. (Since BuzzFeed's piece, a source says the Home Office has decided not to enforce any deportation action on him.) Even those who are in the country legally are only granted 45 days in a temporary safehouse, and once those days are up, they can easily fall back into homelessness—the very population human traffickers seek out for slave labor. The full piece is worth a read. (Read more Longform stories.)