THERE have been “significant increases” in crimes related to modern slavery, West Yorkshire Police has said.

Nearly 500 arrests have been made by the force since 2018 related to the “horrific and despicable” crime.

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain and can include a wide range of abuse from sexual exploitation and domestic servitude to forced labour, criminal exploitation and even organ harvesting.

Victims are tricked or threatened and West Yorkshire Police said they often leave the UK, which can prevent those who peddle the misery of modern slavery from being brought to justice.

Figures released by West Yorkshire Police show that 110 arrests were made in 2018-19; 113 in 2019-20; 126 in 2020-21 and 126 in 2021-22.

And the force said there has been a surge since 2018.

A spokesperson said: “Crime recording for modern slavery offences has increased year on year in all sections of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 with significant increases from 2018, due to better awareness and understanding by first responders in recognising the offence; better engagement with potential victims and better transparency and accuracy in crime recording.”

They added: “The more accurate crime recording increases the number of suspects identified and arrests made following this.

“The scale and complexity of these cases result in long investigations and victims often leave the UK losing contact with the police, in turn not supporting prosecutions.”

When cases are heard in court, harrowing details of victims’ ordeals are revealed.

Back in December, the heart-rending story of a boy held captive and tricked into being transported to a Bradford cannabis farm was heard in the sentencing hearing of two men who played a role in his exploitation.

Zain Bashir, 25, of Aireville Avenue, Frizinghall, was jailed for four years and nine months and Usmaan Tasif, 26, of Moor Park Drive, Bradford Moor, was locked up for three years and four months.

Both pleaded guilty to arranging or facilitating the travel of the Vietnamese boy, with a view to him being exploited.

The court heard the boy bore physical scars from being tortured and had been whipped by ropes and burnt by heat lamps.

West Yorkshire Police said having a general awareness can help people be alert.

The force said: “Modern slavery is an absolutely horrific and despicable crime that we can all play a part in preventing.”

The Modern Slavery Helpline is on 08000 121 700. 999 should be used for emergencies.