Modern slavery 'in every large UK town and city'

Modern slavery and human trafficking is much more prevalent in the UK than previously thought, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The agency is currently assisting police with 300 operations across the UK, with cases affecting "every large town and city".

Evidence suggests that victims as young as 12 are being sold to families in the UK from Europe, according to the NCA.

Will Kerr, the NCA's director of vulnerabilities, 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."

Earlier this year, figures showed the number of suspected victims of slavery and human trafficking had more than doubled in three years.

Mr Kerr said there were many different outlets for those brought to the UK to be working illegally and against their will.

The main industries include car washes, construction, agriculture and food processing.

The National Crime Agency has launched a campaign to help recognise the signs of modern slavery. Credit: PA images

The NCA has now launched a new campaign aimed at helping people spot and report cases of modern slavery and human trafficking.

The signs include:

  • visible injuries

  • distressed appearance

  • indication they are being controlled by another person

  • earning very little pay

  • living in poor conditions

It comes after a gang of 18 were convicted for grooming young girls and vulnerable women and encouraging them in to prostitution.

The First Secretary of State, Damian Green PC MP, said information from the local community is key in helping police crack down of these types of crimes.