Officers in Cumbria are taking part in intensification activity which is being undertaken to identify and safeguard victims of human trafficking.
The intensification activity is focussed on victims who are being forced into sex work as well identifying those responsible for any connected trafficking offences.
Officers will be researching and risk-assessing adult services websites in order to make checks regarding their vulnerability and wellbeing to ascertain whether there are any concerns regarding exploitation.
Detective Chief Inspector Craig Smith, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “We will be undertaking coordinated activity aimed at identifying and safeguarding adults working within the sex industry against their will, utilising the internet to do so.
“Human traffickers exploit adult victims in the sex industry because the demand for sexual services means they can generate vast criminal profits. While some may question whether this happens in Cumbria, I can assure you that unfortunately it can. The intention of this activity is to reduce vulnerability, protect victims and target those who exploit or cause harm.
“Those paying for sex with an adult need to think about whether they are engaging a trafficked victim. Paying for sex with someone who has been trafficked is a criminal offence, regardless of whether or not the person paying knows that the other person has been trafficked.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Human trafficking for sex work is a despicable and inhumane crime, it shows a complete disregard for the wellbeing and safety of victims and we need to do our best to protect anyone drawn into this criminality.
“The people who conduct trafficking exploit vulnerable victims by grooming, coercing and forcing them in to sex working, often from a very young age. It is absolutely right that Cumbria Constabulary are focussing on identifying and safeguarding victims of sex work.
“Of course we want to catch the traffickers but if we can safeguard a vulnerable person who has been forced in to the sex industry then I see it as a major success.”
Anyone who is concerned that someone may be a victim of trafficking or has information about trafficking should report it police on 101 or confidentially to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700. In an emergency, always call 999.