Before leaving Poland, Antoni* and Dorota* were told they would earn £250 per week working in a factory. But when they arrived in England, the traffickers controlled their wages, handing them just £20 a week of what they earned.
They were exploited for three long years, moved between Nottinghamshire and Wales. As well as forced labour, the couple’s abusers made them bring in extra money through stealing. They were caught more than once, and received custodial sentences, meaning they had a criminal record as a result of their exploitation.
Once they were free, Antoni and Dorota were referred to Hope for Justice, and our Independent Modern Slavery Advocate (IMSA) service supported them for two years. This included helping them access welfare and disability benefits and stable accommodation.
We also referred Antoni and Dorota to a specialist criminal lawyer who applied to have the convictions against them overturned. We supported them at various appointments with the solicitor, and provided a detailed witness statement outlining the history of their exploitation and the support they had received from Hope for Justice.
The solicitor submitted applications to have their cases reopened and, following a lengthy and complex appeal process, the request was successful. Now, the couple’s names have been cleared and they no longer have a criminal record.
They said: “We were forced to steal by the people who trafficked us. We were threatened and we felt like we had no choice. We are very happy that the convictions have been overturned. This was a huge burden. We had been thinking a lot about these convictions and once we found out they had been overturned, it was like a weight off our minds. The fact that Hope for Justice helped us with this means a lot. We wouldn’t have known who to turn to for help otherwise. We wouldn’t even have known that there was a possibility of the convictions being quashed. We are very grateful for Hope for Justice’s support.”
*Names changed to protect survivors’ identities