Nine cases of ‘slavery and sexual exploitation’ of migrant workers are being investigated by police.
“The investigations focus on areas where there is a high percentage of migrant workers – including Boston and South Holland”, said a police spokesman.
Det Supt David Wood, of Lincolnshire Police, said: “There is a level of exploitation, through slavery and servitude, through sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, that because it is hidden behind doors, or it is in factories, people just don’t see it. But we will see more and more of this going on unless we do something about it.
“This is on the increase and unscrupulous people are exploiting weaknesses in the system in the UK and every time we find one, they move somewhere else.”
News of the investigations comes amid reports from Boston Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) that the number of people seeking their help on the matter has increased by a third in the last year - with staff now dealing with up to 12 such cases a week.
Stuart Hellon, the CAB’s chief executive officer, said: “We’ve had cases where people have come to us because unscrupulous employers have taken undisclosed amounts of money from them for accommodation, for transport and even to pay for protective gear to wear at work. Some have had their passports withheld and others have been made to pay for payslips – which is illegal.
“But many are too afraid to come forward for fear of losing their jobs and accommodation.”
He said most of the issues relate to people working with employment agencies in food processing roles.
An academic report in 2012 had said there are a high number of issues of workplace exploitation, poor accommodation and homelessness in Boston.
Boston borough councillor Paul Kenny is calling upon organisations to protect vulnerable people who are being exploited in Boston - and said the issue has a ‘knock-on effect’ on the whole town.
He says tougher penalties should be given to those exploiting workers while zero-hour contracts should be banned.
“We need to implement the law around modern slavery and make Boston a place where people are not exploited and abused,” he added.