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Child victims of modern slavery.

Child victims of modern slavery.

There has been an eightfold increase in the number of child victims of modern slavery referred by local councils in England for support.

National Crime Agency figures reveal the number of children earmarked for help grew from 127 in 2014 to 1,152 last year - an increase of 807%.

Town hall bosses say the increase has been fuelled by the growing of issue "county-lines" drug gangs.

Councils receive no specific funding for supporting such victims.

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, it is an offence to hold a person in a position of forced labour or facilitate their travel with the intention of exploiting them soon after.

The act introduced tougher sentences, and more help for people forced into labouring, domestic servitude, sex work or selling drugs.

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