COMING just 24 hours after a disturbing series of child sexual exploitation convictions in Newcastle, the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) warning that modern slavery and human trafficking is now affecting every large town and city in the UK is sadly no surprise.

The agency is assisting on 300 live police operations investigating modern slavery, with victims including those working in car washes, agriculture, construction and food processing.

Many are sold into prostitution and kept in pop-up brothels.

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Today we reported the story of father-of-one Dau Ba Phuong, who came to the UK from Vietnam in search of a better life. He ended up being trafficked into the country in the back of a lorry, and in exchange for looking after a cannabis farm in Shildon, was given a place to sleep, food and a phone. He is now in jail and facing deportation.

The NCA’s director of vulnerabilities, Will Kerr says the problem is on a larger scale than anyone previously thought, and adds: “This should not be acceptable in any way, shape or form.”

His comments are strikingly similar to those of Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman, who spoke out after details of the size of his force’s investigation into the Newcastle grooming network became clear on Wednesday.

He described tackling child sexual exploitation as “the challenge of our generation”.

Those who believe trafficking, slavery, and organised child sexual abuse could not happen in their town, village or street must take heed of these warnings any report any suspicions they have to the authorities immediately. Victims will be found in every community.