Police record two modern slavery cases a week
Police in the North East recorded an average of two modern slavery cases a week last year, new figures show.
Home Office data shows that, of 100 potential slavery victims referred to Northumbria Police, 41 involved children.
Nationally, more than 12,000 potential victims were referred to police last year – the highest on record – but senor officers said the data is unlikely to show the true scale of slavery and trafficking.
In the Northumbria Police area the figures also show 14 referrals were linked to labour related exploitation, 13 sexual and 14 criminal – with the number of cases increasing by 30%, from 77 in 2020.
National Police Chiefs' Council lead for modern slavery, Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, linked increased referrals nationally to greater awareness, understanding and reporting of the issue.
But anti-slavery charity Unseen say that the figures vastly underestimate the scale of the problem and called for more to be done to disrupt growing demand for the exploitative practice.
The charity's CEO Andrew Wallis said that war and economic disparity meant there were more vulnerable people trying to make a living and more exploiters preying upon them.
He also warned that the Government's proposed Nationality and Borders Bill – which would see victims viewed as less credible if they miss the deadline for giving information about their experiences – could prevent some victims coming forward.
A Home Office spokesman said the UK has led the world in protecting victims of modern slavery and would continue to identify and support victims.