A NEW north-west office has been opened by a charity tackling modern slavery.

Work by Hope for Justice will initially focus on the issue in neighbouring Lancashire.

But the regional office will take in referrals from Bolton and Bury, where appropriate.

Paul McAnulty, the charity's UK and Europe programme director, said: "Modern slavery is a global problem, but it is also a local one.

"The remedy for this abhorrent crime needs to be rolled out on a local basis.

"That’s why we first developed our now award-winning response to modern slavery, delivered by our teams who work in the community to ultimately put an end to human trafficking."

Before now, the organisation has been focusing its efforts on the West Midland and West Yorkshire.

But there have been several issues identified around Blackburn, Burnley and Bolton concerning modern slavery in recent years.

Mr McAnulty added: "The picture of modern slavery varies in different areas of the country. In Lancashire and the North West, people are being trafficked into various forms of exploitation through physical, financial or psychological control.

"People are being forced to work for little or no pay into at risk industries such as logistics, food production and agriculture, nail bars, restaurants, and car washes.

"Victims are also often coerced into sexual exploitation, forced criminality and domestic servitude."

The charity will be working closely with the Pan-Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership, local authorities and other non-govermental organisations.