VICTIMS of modern slavery in the region are being urged to use a dedicated phoneline to seek help.

Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Barry Coppinger, and Cleveland Police specialist detectives are urging victims to use the helpline which has been launched by non-government organisation Unseen and telephone provider BT.

Potential victims can to speak to fully-trained call handlers, who will guide them to relevant services, including government funded agencies.

Organisations and businesses can also call for information and advice about any reports of modern slavery involving their clients or employees.

Cleveland PCC Coppinger, said: “It’s essential we raise awareness about modern day slavery and highlight the ways people can get the support and advice they need, using tools like the Modern Slavery Helpline.

“I’ve committed to tackling the issue in my Police and Crime Plan and pledge to work with agencies to seek intelligence to help bring the people behind these crimes to justice.”

Detective Superintendent Alastair Simpson added: “Unfortunately slavery is not something confined to history, and can and does happen in towns and cities across the UK.

"Much is hidden, but we can bring it to light by raising awareness of the signs and types of slavery in today’s day and age."

Justine Currell, Executive Director at Unseen said: “We are delighted that Cleveland Police and Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner are raising awareness of the UK Modern Slavery Helpline run by Unseen, recognising the vital role a national helpline has to play in supporting potential victims and preventing this insidious crime.

“It is only through great collaboration that we can hope to tackle modern slavery and lock up those who exploit and prey on others.”

The helpline can be reached 24/7 on 08000-121700.