Cases of people being abused, trafficked or used as slaves are on the rise in Buckinghamshire, according to new figures.

The hidden crimes, together known as modern slavery, are exploiting people all over the county – with people of all ages affected, from as young as 10 to up to 60.

Latest figures show Thames Valley Police is recording three modern slavery crimes every week and has seen a 400 per cent increase in reports in the past year.

In Bucks, there have been 29 reported cases of people being sexually exploited, trafficked, ordered to smuggle drugs or forced to work as a slave over the past two years.

High Wycombe saw nine reported cases, while the Chiltern and South Bucks local policing areas saw six. Aylesbury Vale also had six and Milton Keynes had eight.

There were 120 reports across the force area in total between 2015 and 2017.

TVP has today launched an 18-month campaign, Hidden Harm, in a bid to tackle the crimes, with a focus on modern slavery, which is illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain.

Victims are tricked or threatened into work and many feel unable to leave through fear or intimidation.

Detective superintendent Nick John, head of protecting vulnerable people, said: “It’s a common misconception that slavery doesn't exist anymore or that it's a crime that doesn't affect us here in the UK. This couldn't be further from the truth.

“Modern slavery is happening in this country and, more specifically, right here in Thames Valley.

“With offences in every county of the force, it's a stark reminder that this is an offence that could happen anywhere, even in your community.

“It's also a crime that affects people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and nationalities, even people from here in the UK.

“In fact, last year in Thames Valley, UK nationals were the most common victims of modern slavery.

“Whilst we have seen a significant increase in reporting of these crimes over the past year we know that many more go unreported. We rely on information from members of the public in order to identify these crimes, safeguard victims and bring offenders to justice. We cannot do this alone.

“This is why it's so important that members of the public know how to recognise the signs of modern slavery and who to speak to about their concerns.

“We all have a role to play in keeping people safe from harm, especially the most vulnerable in our communities.

“If you suspect something, no matter how small, report it - either confidentially via the Modern Slavery Helpline or to us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”

He added that the signs that someone may be a victim of modern slavery are not always obvious but there are some things that could stand out, for example, someone looking scruffy or injured, acting anxiously or afraid, living in overcrowded or poorly maintained accommodation and working long hours or wearing unsuitable clothing.

Justine Currell, executive director of Unseen, which runs the Modern Slavery Helpline, said: “The 24/7 confidential Modern Slavery Helpline takes calls from potential victims, statutory agencies, businesses and the public on all aspects of modern slavery.

“We have taken over 2,500 calls in less than 12 months and made over 1,000 referrals to the police and safeguarding teams across the UK.

“This highlights the important role the helpline plays in giving advice and guidance to those in need, supporting access to services, and preventing more people from becoming victims.

The police’s Hidden Harm campaign will run over the next 18 months, focusing on a number of different abuse-related crimes, including modern slavery, child abuse, honour based abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse and hate crime.

D/Supt John added: “The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of crimes happening right now in the heart of our communities which often go undetected or unreported.

“The message underpinning the entire campaign is simple – open your eyes to abuse. It could be happening in your community so if you suspect it, report it.

“The modern slavery phase of this campaign will see ongoing activity for the first three weeks of October to raise awareness of this crime.

“A number of partners will also be showing their support including local authorities, health services and charities.”

Anyone who wants advice, guidance or need support on any modern slavery issue can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline anytime on 08000 121 700.

For more details, go to

If you think someone you know may be a victim of modern slavery tell someone:

  • Modern Slavery Helpline - 08000 121 700 (confidential)
  • Police - 101 or 999 in an emergency
  • Crimestoppers - 0800 555 111 (anonymous)