Modern-day ‘slave’ rescued after 40 years of captivity

A man who is believed to be a victim of modern slavery in the UK was rescued this week from a decrepit shed — where he is believed to have lived for the past 40 years.

Officers found the 58-year-old man with only a chair and soiled bedding inside the shed at a residential site north of Carlisle, Cumbria, on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

He was taken away to be assessed by specialist medical staff, and a 79-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of modern slavery offenses, according to the report.

“The information that was given to us was that he had been kept in the shed for a period of 40 years,” Martin Plimmer of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority told the outlet. “When we found him he was like a rabbit in headlights and very confused.”

“He was just in the clothes he stood up in, and where he was sleeping in the shed there was just a soiled duvet on the floor,” he added. “There was no heating and it was very cold. It was conditions that no human being should live in.”

It appeared that the man had been forced to carry out unpaid work from the age of 16 or 17 — and it was unclear if he had ever tried to leave, according to Plimmer.

“He has been traumatized for such a length of time that it will be a slow process to win back his trust,” Plimmer said. “In my long career I’ve never come across anyone who has been held as a slave potentially for 40 years and this, I think, could be the longest period of captivity that we have dealt with.”

Plimmer’s agency — along with the National Crime Agency and Cumbria Police — conducted the raid following a call to a confidential help line, he added.

Carlisle City Council’s private sector housing team was also involved, looking into possible health and safety breaches, according to the report.

Modern slavery is believed to exist in a wide range of forms across the UK, The Guardian reported.

The number of suspected modern slavery victims in the country has skyrocketed from an estimated 13,000 in 2013 to 136,000 in 2018 — becoming what authorities are calling an “evolving threat,” according to this year’s Global Slavery Index.