FOLLOWING a high-profile modern slavery case, Bucks County Council has launched an inquiry into the extent of the problem within the county.

Police recorded over 150 Buckinghamshire victims of modern slavery between February 2016 and March 2017. Women were most often targeted for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, while men were used for labour and often coerced into committing crimes. Workers in isolated agricultural groups, and remote factories, are particularly vulnerable.

There have been a number of arrests for modern slavery in recent months. In September this year, a group of four people from Maidenhead and Farnham Royal were arrested in connection with modern slavery.

The inquiry, which could last six months, comes amid concerns that across the region their is a lack of awareness about modern slavery and no dedicated victim service.

The cross-party inquiry group will investigate the scope of the problem, how it can be identified, and how to best support its victims.

The inquiry is expected to last for up to six months. Chairman of Bucks County Council, Steven Lambert, said: “This is potentially a major problem hovering below our radar, and we’re intent on getting it clearly on to the community’s radar, which isn’t something we can rush.

“The outcomes from our inquiry will help us identify what training and awareness are needed, which organisations we should be working with, how the issue can be reported effectively, and how we support the victims in our county.”