Modern slavery is ‘barbaric’
Slavery may have been abolished in the UK in 1833 but there are still numerous instances of "modern slavery" being investigated by police even now.
In fact, more than 60 cases of modern slavery have been investigated by police in Lincolnshire alone since 2016.
The figures were unveiled at an event, organised by the Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, designed to help businesses protect themselves from the risks of modern slavery.
DI Harry Dick, modern slavery and human trafficking coordinator for East Midlands, told delegates the problem was now widespread across the UK with 665 active investigations across the country and 72 in the East Midlands.
Addressing more than 60 people at the Modern Slavery: How to Protect Your Business event in Sleaford, he said there were currently nine cases being examined in the county with the numbers of investigations rising from 22 in 2016 to 31 last year.
Speaker and campaigner Shane Tyler, head of operations for a leading Lincolnshire fresh produce supplier, also told the audience that he had identified 200 cases of exploited workers in the region during the last 12 months.
"This problem undermines our ability to do business and threatens our communities," he said.
While Home Office statistics suggest thousands of people are being exploited in the UK, many small business are still largely unaware of the issue.
Statistics provided by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply indicate 61 per cent of small businesses are unaware of the Modern Slavery Act and 67 per cent had done nothing to ensure their business was compliant with the law.
PCC Marc Jones said: "Modern slavery and the exploitation of the vulnerable is a barbaric and despicable crime that is not just a criminal act but a violation of our humanity.
"The event was designed to help local businesses comply with the law to not just protect themselves but also to work in partnership with the authorities to eradicate this evil.
"I'm delighted so many people attended and hope this is one step in the long, but important, journey to put an end to the human misery that results from modern slavery."