Reports of slavery victims increases in Hampshire
DOZENS of children were identified as victims of modern slavery in Hampshire, a report has revealed.
The National Crime Agency's annual report revealed Hampshire police were told about 144 possible victims last year, up from 105 in the previous year. The cases had been identified by a number of agencies with police informed about them.
The NCA’s figures show how many people were referred to a national system for dealing with victims by police and other agencies.
Portsmouth City Council referred 33 children to the National Referral Mechanism, while Hampshire County Council referred 21 children and an adult.
Hampshire police referred 33 children and 13 adults last year – more than the combined number of 33 in 2017.
Officers in Hampshire have previously targeted car washes and nail bars in a bid to identify trafficking victims.
The crime commissioner's office also runs a Modern Slavery Partnership.
Across the country 6,993 potential victims were referred into the system in 2018, up from 5,142 in 2017.
NCA deputy director Roy McComb said: ‘The increase is undoubtedly the result of greater awareness, understanding and reporting of modern slavery and that is something to be welcomed.
‘However, the more we look the more we find, and it is likely these figures represent only a snapshot of the true scale of slavery and trafficking in the UK.
‘Of particular concern is the increase in referrals made for “county lines” type exploitation. These are often vulnerable individuals – often children – who are exploited by criminal gangs for the purposes of drug trafficking.’