NORTH Wales police boss Arfon Jones is calling for urgent legislation to crack down on modern slavery and human trafficking.

He fears Holyhead is a soft target for traffickers and ferry companies should be legally obliged to keep accurate passenger manifests.

He's also worried  the Brexit vote will make a "mess" of the so-called Common Travel Area which means that currently people can travel freely between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

He pointed to the fact that Holyhead is the second busiest ferry port in the UK and handles two million passengers a year.

The commissioner's comments came as he opened North Wales’ first ever modern slavery and human trafficking conference at The Interchange in Old Colwyn, attended by social workers, probation officers, health boards and local authorities from across the region.

Mr Jones said: “Holyhead Port should not be a soft target for offenders. I have asked for legislation to mandate the ferry companies to keep accurate passenger information.

“I have been pressing ferry companies to keep a full manifest of travellers as is done with air travel. Many people who use the ferries to enter the UK mainland at Holyhead have no record of their journey.

“Passports and often individual tickets are not required to permit travel. This is very helpful to the traffickers enabling them to move people unnoticed with ease. We must wake up to this vulnerability.

“The Common Travel Area provides a real vulnerability in national security and unfortunately real opportunities for those in the business of trafficking people.

“I continue to press this issue nationally and have called on the government that now’s not the time to reduce resources at our borders. North Wales Police have a presence at the port and have been involved in operations to uncover trafficking.”

Earlier this year Mr Jones funded the appointment of the UK's first police support officer dedicated to helping victims of modern slavery  and human trafficking, which is a key priority in the commissioner's Police and Crime plan, his blueprint for policing North Wales.

Mr Jones added: “Potential trafficking through Holyhead, however, is not simply an issue for Anglesey. It would be naïve to consider that where victims and perpetrators have passed through the port, that’s where the problem ends.

“These people can end up in cities across the UK, in London, Manchester, Birmingham. They can also end up in Wrexham, Mold, Colwyn Bay or Rhyl.”

Roy McComb, Deputy Director, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, at the National Crime Agency, told the conference: “The official figure suggests there are only around 4,000. However, we believe the actual figures is in the hundreds of thousands."

Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said: “In 2016 we had 26 modern day slavery referrals in North Wales resulting in 78 crimes being recorded and 31 arrests being made. Three were charged.

“We are starting to shine a light on the issue and take action but we need to accept the shame for what is happening. We, working here in North Wales, are influencing the rest of the UK and the world and we are making a difference.”

For the Modern Day Slavery Helpline telephone 08000 121 700 or visit

If you suspect slavery telephone police on 101, anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 012 1700 or BAWSO on 08007318147. 

If you are a victim you can call the freephone number on 0300 3030159, email, or visit