THE number of potential modern slavery victims has increased by more than 35 per cent, according to police.

The figures have been released by Cumbria Police on Anti-Slavery Day and reveal that last year there were 197 intelligence reports relevant to Cumbria about potential modern slavery and 6,993 potential victims - which is a 36 per cent increase on the previous year.

Cumbria Police, their Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall and Soroptimist International are supporting UK Anti-Slavery Day today and are highlighting their new initiative of preparing a set of ‘starter bags’ to support victims of modern slavery, with the drive being supported by the commissioner’s property fund.

Modern Slavery is a hidden crime, which is taking place in takeaways, car washes, nail bars and private homes within Cumbria. Victims can be men, women and children of all ages.

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Smith, force lead on modern slavery for Cumbria Police, said: “People may have the misconception that modern day slavery doesn’t happen in Cumbria - and that it is only an issue for big cities.

“But human trafficking and slavery can happen anywhere. I would urge anyone who has concerns to report them to the police immediately.

“We work hard to protect vulnerable people and stop any possible exploitation as quickly as possible, and to bring anyone found responsible for these horrific crimes to justice.”

Call 101 if you have any concerns about slavery or the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.