MODERN slavery and human trafficking is going on in ‘every large town and city’ in the UK, according to the National Crime Agency.
Cases are more prevalent than previously thought, said the agency as it helps police with 300 live operations.
The NCA’s Will Kerr said: ‘The more that we look for modern slavery, the more we find evidence of the widespread abuse of the vulnerable.
‘The growing body of evidence we are collecting points to the scale being far larger than anyone previously thought. This should not be acceptable in any way, shape or form.’
Mr Kerr added there were ‘lots of different outlets’ for people trafficked into the UK to be working illegally and against their will, with many affecting people in everyday life.
They are working in car washes, construction, agriculture and food processing — often receiving little pay and forced to put up with poor living conditions.
Others are sold as sex workers or toil in cannabis factories.
Mr Kerr cited the case of a 12-year-old Roma girl stopped at border control, bound for a life as a domestic slave after she was ‘effectively sold by her father’. Charges are pending.
More than 3,800 potential slaves were identified last year, up from 1,745 in 2013. A campaign has now been launched by the NCA to spot the signs, including visible injuries, a distressed appearance and any indication a person is being controlled by another.
Anyone who has any information on slavery gangs can contact the agency on 08000 121 700.