Al Jazeera reveals the true scale of modern slavery in suburban Britain

index• Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit goes undercover to reveal the true scale of modern slavery in suburban Britain
• The report exposes the slave masters and the people smugglers and hears from victims about their ordeals
• Examines the car wash business, cannabis farms, sex slave trade and people trafficking

Britain’s Modern Slave Trade, a new documentary from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, premiered yesterday on Al Jazeera. Following six months of undercover filming, Al Jazeera can reveal the true scale of modern slavery in Britain, and the possible links with big businesses.

During the investigation the reporters confront a car wash owner accused of slavery; they go inside an active cannabis farm; travel to Romania to meet a sex trafficker; meet a woman who has worked as a sex slave, been rescued and then re-trafficked into sex slavery in the UK; and talk to Vietnamese people smugglers as well as those they end up smuggling.

The report comes as Kevin Hyland, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, warns big business that they may unwittingly be using slaves in their supply chain.  This coincides with new laws coming into force this month (April) obliging firms to publish slavery statements.

Yet the car wash workers featured in the report reveal their shocking working and living conditions:  12-hour days; verbal and physical abuse from their British boss; huge fines and debt bondage imposed for minor damage; and squalid accommodation in temporary cabins on the car wash site.

Undercover filming inside an active cannabis farm reveals the details of a lone Vietnamese gardener’s job: how the electricity is stolen, and how he never goes out and lives in fear.   A cannabis slave trafficked from Vietnam to England also talks about how he was beaten, kept in chains and almost starved.

The team travels to Romania and are offered sex slaves for 500 euros each.  In London they meet a sex trafficker who brings young women from Romania and forces them into prostitution. He describes the techniques he uses to control their lives and their minds.  They also meet an eastern European sex slave trafficked, rescued and re-trafficked into sex slavery in the UK.

Finally, at a nail bar in London, a Vietnamese woman describes how she has just been smuggled into the UK in a lorry. Her brother explains the route she used to get to the UK.   In Vietnam, people-smugglers reveal how they take people 6,000 miles to the UK. They explain the routes, the cost and how they use fake ID.

Britain’s Modern Slave Trade will repeat on Al Jazeera English at 2000 GMT/2200 CAT on Thursday, 28 April 2016. Watch and embed a two-minute explainer at or the full 47-minute documentary from

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About Cholo Brooks 16878 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.