MERSEYSIDE'S deputy police commissioner has pledged her support to tackle modern slavery.

Cllr Emily Spurrell has united with representatives from Merseyside's five authorities to sign a charter against modern slavery.

In 2016, the Global Slavery Index estimated that there was around 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK compared to 13,000 in 2013.

Cllr Spurrell said: "“Slavery was abolished more than 180 years ago in this country.

"Yet we know it’s still happening today right across the UK and sadly in our own communities, here in Merseyside.

“Slavery’s hidden nature means it can be difficult to ascertain the extent of the problem, but we know the number of identified victims is continuing to rise.

"We also know it is an issue we all need to face. Local authorities have the ability to implement changes at a community level that can make a real difference.

"By taking this pledge, the councils in our region are showing just how seriously they take this issue and that they are the forefront of the fight against modern slavery.”

The Co-operative Party’s Charter against Modern Slavery goes further than existing law and guidance and commits councils to 'vet' their own supply chain to make sure there is no trace of modern slavery.

Wirral Council’s cabinet member for Law and Order Cllr Paul Stuart said: “I welcome the opportunity to sign up to the Charter against Modern Slavery, and do so with pride.

“Modern Slavery might not always be obvious, but its exploitation of vulnerable people can be happening all around us.

"I am working with Wirral Council and its partners to ensure modern slavery has no place in Wirral.

"We will do our best to protect victims and push for the prosecution of those who commit this crime.”