MORE than 70 potential slavery victims were referred to police in Northumbria last year – around a fifth of them children.

Home Office data reveals a rise in modern slavery cases referred to Northumbria Police, with 77 recorded in 2020 – three more than in 2019. They included 18 children, equating to around 23 per cent of all referrals.

Across the UK, 10,613 potential victims were referred to police last year – broadly in line with the record 10,616 identified in 2019.

Between January and March this year, almost 3,000 further potential victims were flagged – a slight increase on the same period in 2020. Of those, 25 were identified to police in Northumbria.

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Modern slavery can involve domestic servitude, forced labour, sexual or criminal exploitation.

Those identified as possible victims by police forces, councils or other recognised authorities are referred to the Home Office for support via the National Referral Mechanism.