The nature of crime in the UK is changing and countering the complex offending of organized criminal groups is one of the biggest challenges prosecutors face. This film follows the work of Eran Cutliffe, a senior prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, over nearly 2 years, as she tries to build a case that will break new legal ground. What she’s tackling is happening in plain sight up and down the UK’s high streets – child trafficking and exploitation.
In gang-run nail bars, unsuspecting customers are having their nails painted by underage Vietnamese girls, who have arrived in the UK in containers or lorries and are moved around the country to work as slaves. Children found by police and immigration officers at nail bars are placed into foster care but they often run away and return to the network, making it even harder for the authorities to help them and to bring to justice those exploiting them.
The Modern Slavery Act was passed in 2015 in a bid to tackle new forms of slavery. But the way in which the new law deals with the exploitation of children has never been tested in court. For this landmark case Eran joins forces with barrister and Human Trafficking expert, Caroline Haughey QC and Julie Warburton. They work together with Staffordshire and Avon and Somerset police, as the case grows.
The girls found in the nail bars do not see themselves as victims. As illegal immigrants, with no other options, they are happy to be fed and housed and work for free. As Eran hears more accounts from the girls, the similarities between their stories make her suspect that the network is coaching the girls in what to say if they are questioned by the police. How do you bring a prosecution when the victims are missing or their credibility as witnesses is drastically undermined? This film reveals the true complexity of the puzzle the police and CPS must piece together as they attempt to get to the very heart of a criminal gang who trade children as commodities.