BUSINESS chiefs in the construction and food processing industries are being asked to be on the lookout for employees who may have been trafficked into forced labour.

Modern slavery can take many forms and the latest statistics show that 47 per cent of all potential victims, who cite the UK as the location of exploitation, were trafficked into forced labour.

Sergeant Abi Finch-Hall said it was important for employers to be vigilant with regards to their staff and to ensure they have the right checks in place to protect workers.

Sgt Finch-Hall said: “The vast majority of employers will be recruiting people legitimately, but some firms could find themselves targeted by unscrupulous gang masters who may be offering a ready supply of labour at cheaper rates.

“Unfortunately the people who are forced into labour are frightened of these gangs and are made to live in horrendous conditions and paid very little, if any money.

“Modern slavery is happening in Lancashire and could be taking place in your workplace. The more awareness we can generate amongst businesses to report any signs, the better.”

Sgt Finch-Hall said signs to spot potential victims include: if employees in possession of their own identity documents and bank cards; are there a group of workers whose wages are paid into the same bank account; are a group of workers dropped off or picked up at unusual times of the day or do they all live in the same property; are employees malnourished, withdrawn or suffering physical injuries?

Other signs include; will they speak for themselves or through a third party; do they look like they have untreated injuries and are they reluctant to tell say how they were caused; do they seem afraid of the police, immigration officials or are they worried about returning home?

Police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Building awareness around the county so more people can spot the signs and report anything that concerns them is crucial, helping Lancashire police take necessary action to protect the vulnerable victims we know are out there.

“By working together, sharing information with the authorities and supporting victims we can tackle this serious and often hidden crime.”

If you have any information or suspect someone is the victim of human trafficking or modern day slavery, call the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121700.