A senior police detective believes hundreds of people could be victims of modern slavery in Derbyshire.
Detective Inspector Harry Dick, of Derbyshire Constabulary, spoke out ahead of a conference in Chesterfield which will discuss slavery today and how it can be stopped.
DI Dick said modern slavery includes a number of offences such as sexual exploitation, forced labour and the trafficking of people.
“Based on Home Office data, I estimate a couple of hundred people could be victims of modern slavery throughout our county,” DI Dick told the Derbyshire Times.
Last year, two Slovakian brothers were jailed for a total of seven years and eight months for trafficking 12 vulnerable men from their own country and from the Czech Republic to the county.
Having got them here, they sent them out to work and pocketed their earnings.
DI Dick added: “People in Derbyshire also need to be aware that the food they’re eating, the clothes they’re buying and the toys they’re getting for Christmas, for example, come from a supply chain which may be connected to modern slavery.”
Derby Diocese is hosting the Chesterfield Modern Slavery Conference at the St Barnabas Centre in Danesmoor from 10am to 2.30pm on Saturday to raise awareness of the issue as a follow-up to the Church of England’s Derby Human Trafficking Summits last year.
Those summits, hosted by The Bishop of Derby, Dr Alistair Redfern, were the first of their kind in the UK, and now he is keen to extend them to the rest of Derbyshire.
“The feedback has been very positive as many groups and individuals had the opportunity to network and learn from each other,” said a Diocese spokesman.
Guest speakers will include members of charity Stop the Traffik and DI Dick.
He said: “Unfortunately modern slavery will not stop unless there is more awareness raising and partnership work – and that’s why this conference is so important.”
DI Dick said Derbyshire Constabulary takes the issue of modern slavery “very seriously” and works with a number of partners to help tackle it.
There will be refreshments and time for networking at the event. To book a ticket for the conference, visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/chesterfield-
• Victims of modern slavery, or anyone with information about it, should call Derbyshire police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.