The number of modern slavery instances reported in Slough since January could be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ according to Slough Borough Council’s Safer Slough partnership.

The council revealed that more than 20 cases have been reported in 2018 alone, but council staff believe the problem could be much bigger, with countless unreported incidents suspected to be taking place.

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain, with victims trapped in servitude, which they were deceived or coerced into and they feel they cannot leave. It can also include sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude.

Cllr Pavitar K Mann, cabinet member for consumer protection and regulation, said: “No-one should live a life feeling scared, intimated and trapped at the hands of someone else. However the reality is that modern slavery is happening across the country and here in Slough.

“This is why we want to raise awareness and encourage residents to report any instances they may be aware of to.”

Slough Borough Council have released a list of five questions which could help reveal possible victims of modern slavery.

Those questions are:

• Are you living the life you expected to live before coming here?

• Does someone have control of your identity documents or passport and bank card?

• If you wanted to leave your job or accommodation, would someone stop you?

• Have you ever been threatened if you do not do as you are told?

• Are you able to make contact with your family and friends when you want?

The council has said it will be launching a campaign in due course to tie in with national anti-slavery day (October 18) in a bid to crack down on the problem.

The campaign will include signs on buses and bus shelters across the town as well as on social media channels of the Safer Slough partnership’s members, with the aim to inform residents that this could be happening on their doorstep.

Garry Tallett, community safety partnership manager, said:

“Modern Slavery is closer than you think.

“It is one issue that affects all our organisations, so we wanted to collectively raise awareness and encourage victims to come forward as well as members of the public to report this type of abuse.”