THE number of reports of modern slavery and/or human trafficking in the borough has trebled in the space of two years.

Findings from a Freedom of Information request submitted to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) revealed that there were five reports of crimes of this nature in Wigan borough in 2017.

In 2018 that figure more than doubled to 11 and last year it increased further to 15.

The force said it did not have enough resources to spend time identifying which areas of the borough that each of the reports were made.

In response to the increase, Detective Sergeant Deborah Hurst of GMP’s Serious Crime Division, said: “Greater Manchester Police is working hard, alongside our partners, to tackle the issue of modern slavery.

“In 2015 we created a dedicated team, the Modern Slavery Coordination Unit (MSCU), who work relentlessly to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, and provide vital support and care for victims after they have been identified.

“Within GMP, there are also modern slavery tactical advisors, who provide advice, support and expertise on modern slavery to police officers across the force.

“We have also given advanced training to 110 front line officers in recognising and supporting victims of modern slavery, who can be deployed 24/7 to support investigations.

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“Our collaborative work with our partners as part of Programme Challenger, ensures a joined up Greater Manchester approach so that we can bring offenders to justice, deter further criminal activity, as well as educating and encouraging the general public to report suspicious and criminal behaviour."

If you witness anything suspicious contact police on 101 or call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700. Phone 999 in an emergency.