Efforts to crackdown on modern slavery will see staff from safeguarding organisations across Cumbria given special training to spot the signs.

Last year, more than 200 intelligence reports were recorded by the county’s police force, with 24 people given protection from the crimes of modern slavery, and help offered to six other people.

Cumbria Safeguarding Adults Board is delivering ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions to 50 staff across a range of statutory and non-statutory organisations. It will help them identify and support victims of modern slavery.

These trained staff will then in turn host one-hour, bite-size awareness sessions to their colleagues to raise awareness and equip more people to spot the signs. An online e-learning module will be rolled out later this month.

Training is taking place throughout this week, which see Cumbria Safeguarding Adults Board supporting National Adult Safeguarding Week.

Modern slavery is often called a hidden crime and covers a range of criminal and abusive situations, from human trafficking, forced labour or sex work to child sexual exploitation.

In Cumbria, agricultural forced labour is harder to spot because of the rural nature of our county with many farm properties in isolated areas.

The county’s adult safeguarding board has said that forced labour in car washes and nail bars “remains a concern”, but said it is carrying out regular checks on premises to ensure people are working as a choice and not being forced.

Checks continue on premises where there is a possibility of sex working or other types of exploitation.

A joint agency approach links Cumbria Constabulary working alongside Immigration, Housing, and Safeguarding services and other partners.

Victims include those threatened with violence to work against their will, often for little or no pay and in poor conditions. Offenders will use different methods of control, for example, controlling access to drugs or alcohol from someone with an addiction, or withholding pay or other earnings from people to prevent them from escaping.

Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Holden, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Modern Slavery is a crime which is potentially happening in plain sight in Cumbria.

“By learning to recognise the signs and to report any concerns, we can help to support victims and remove them from exploitative situations.

“Cumbria is working together to show perpetrators that modern slavery is not welcome here. Our partners and charities are working together and training together, creating more awareness of this heinous crime so we can ensure victims are safeguarded and the perpetrators are dealt with.”

Support is available for victims of modern slavery. Once a victim is identified, with their consent, they are submitted into the National Referral Mechanism.

If the referral decision comes back positive, then the Salvation Army will step in to safeguard them and offer access to relevant legal advice, temporary accommodation, protection from violence or further slavery and independent emotional and practical help.

Modern slavery offences often involve, or take place alongside, other criminal offences such as supplying drugs, grievous bodily harm, assault, rape or child sexual abuse.