THE West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) John Campion is urging people across West Mercia to be vigilant and look out for signs of modern slavery in their communities.

Mr Campion made the call as part of his commitment to tackle modern slavery, and protecting the most vulnerable in society, believing that during the COVID-19 outbreak, many will be forced to work in unsafe conditions and will be unable to receive medical care through the official channels.

He says he has also worked with partners in providing funding to give victims emergency accommodation and continues to ensure West Mercia Police has the resources to tackle the crime.

But with this crime type increasing, the PCC is calling on communities to help play their part during the lockdown.

“At this time of national lockdown, we are in a unique position to be able to notice unusual activity in our communities, which at busier times can be easily overlooked," he said.

‘We must all be extra vigilant and try and spot instances of modern slavery, taking on the role of being ‘eyes and ears’ in our communities.

“Look out for residences that have more occupants than you might expect, and for things like vans and cars taking several people from the same address, often appearing to be heading off to work.

"Often victims will be wearing inadequate clothing and appear anxious or afraid.

“During this time of national crisis, it will sadly be the most vulnerable in society that suffer most. You can make a real difference by looking out for your neighbours and your wider communities.”

To report a suspicion or seek advice you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700.

This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also report it West Mercia Police online or call 101 at any time to report an incident. If you're deaf or hard of hearing, use our text-phone service on 18001 101.

Should you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.