The police in North Wales are at the forefront of the battle against modern slavery and human trafficking, it’s been revealed.

A study by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services shows there has been an increase in the number of cases coming to light in the region.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones said it’s positive that more of “these abhorrent crimes” are being uncovered.

The picture in North Wales is different to the rest of England and Wales where victims are often let down, say inspectors.

The study, which looked at 10 police forces, found some examples of good policing - but said that was the exception, rather than the norm.

Thousands of men, women and children are victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK, said the report.

Settings range from nail bars to construction sites, and involve activities from domestic servitude to the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation.

Arfon Jones said: “Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is a priority in my Police and Crime Plan and as a result the force has over the past 12 months put a great deal of resources into investigations and safeguarding the survivors.

“The increase in the number of cases is positive because it demonstrates that North Wales Police is being proactive and at the forefront of the national response to this abhorrent crime.”

“It is vital to increase public awareness so we are working hard with our partners to expose and tackle this issue, protect the people who are being exploited and bring offenders to justice.

“To do this we need the communities of North Wales to support us, to look out for evidence of it and to contact the police if they have concerns.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Detective Superintendent Steven Williams, the North Wales Police lead on modern slavery.

He said: “The HMIC report into ‘the policing response to modern slavery and human trafficking’ has highlighted just how seriously North Wales Police are taking this particular issue.

“The relatively high number is testament to the amount of work that has been undertaken to date. We have developed training packages and given bespoke briefing to our staff to ensure this is understood at the grassroots level.”

“My plea being If you see the signs or suspect the signs then please report it. Your call could make a huge difference and help change the life of a victim.”