Police have joined forces to raise their profile in a campaign to end human trafficking and modern slavery.

Officers and staff across a large number of public sector organisations and charities have been involved in an online campaign to highlight these crimes.

Pictures and posts with messages #EndHumanTraffficking and #IGiveHope were posted as part of the United Nation’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30.

The aim is to make residents in the county aware that there is still slavery in Hertfordshire and to encourage people to report any suspicions they have of incidents to the authorities.

So far this year 18 UK-related slavery or trafficking offences have been recorded in Hertfordshire as per data from the National Referral Mechanism, with most offences related to sexual or labour exploitation.

In the same timeframe in 2016 there were just seven incidents reported, but the scale of the problem is unknown as many offences go unreported.

If someone is believed to be in the UK illegally but reported as a victim of exploitation, they are treated in the first instance as a victim and not an offender in line with national guidance.

Hertfordshire Constabulary launched Operation Tropic which is coordinating police efforts in the county to fight trafficking and slavery.

A steering group called Shiva Foundation will be organising effort from district borough councils, Hertfordshire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office and local charities.

Hertsmere Borough Councillor and Director of Shiva Foundation Meenal Sachdev said: “We know the police across the country have been working hard to tackle this issue, but one agency acting alone will never be sufficient.

The work being done in Hertfordshire with Operation Tropic and with the steering group is about meaningful collaboration to effectively tackle this heinous crime.

By raising the awareness of the public and working together, we can strengthen mechanisms to help identify and provide support to victims of trafficking.”

Call for 101 or the national helpline 08000 121 700 for concerns about trafficking or human slavery or in an emergency call 999.