POLICE will tackle exploitation as a key priority after a 16 year- old was found to have been trafficked into Colchester.

The Crime and Disorder Committee will review the performance of the Safer Colchester Partnership at its annual meeting on September 12.

The partnership includes Colchester Council, Essex County Council, the emergency services and other statutory bodies.

It has made a list of key priorities to focus on this year, including reducing vulnerability and exploitation.

In a report by the Safer Colchester Partnership, it said during a police operation in March, 15 victims of human trafficking were identified in the borough.

A nail bar was found to have a 16-year-old girl in who had been trafficked into the UK - an arrest was made on the owner and the girl was safeguarded. Police are looking to run this operation quarterly.

During another operation in July, which was focussed on modern slavery and child sex exploitation, six nail bars were visited by police and HMRC.

There were potential issues found at four of the nail bars, a potential victim of modern slavery was found, and seven hotels within the town were visited and provided with child sex exploitation information.

Mike Lilley (Lab), borough councillor responsible for public safety in Colchester, said tackling such exploitation was a main priority for both the police and Colchester Council.

He said: “We picked up a female in the town centre who had been placed in a flat by males outside of Colchester.

“She was forced to work as a sex slave, we need to offer them support as they are being exploited and they are very vulnerable.

“We need to bring everyone together as it’s a very serious thing.

They place people in Colchester as it’s a nice place to live, they are starting to move out of London.”

The Essex Police Anti-Slavery Coordinator is delivering six awareness-raising workshops to professionals. Three have taken place so far and further workshops are due to take place this month, and in November and December.

The Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse, in partnership with the Safer Colchester Partnership and Community360, will host and deliver a conference on sexual violence and child sexual abuse on February 6 at Firstsite.

The partnership’s other priorities include reducing violent crime and the fear of being a victim, and tackling high-risk, repeat anti-social behaviour.