A CAMPAIGNING councillor has accused police of ignoring human trafficking in Inverclyde after the Telegraph revealed a fourth potential modern day slavery case at Greenock Sheriff Court.

Colin Jackson claims senior officers have 'swept the obvious issue under the carpet' and has challenged them to comment publicly on what he views as a growing and serious problem for the district.

The Labour man further claims that council officials have joined with their police counterparts in failing to deal with the issue.

But Inverclyde's police area commander, Chief Inspector Paul Cameron, says he and his officers 'prioritise' human trafficking cases when they come to light.

We told last month how a fourth potential case of human trafficking concerning the growing and supply of cannabis in Inverclyde had come before the court.

Councillor Jackson said: "I have raised this issue many times [and] on every occasion the police have denied that there was, or is, human trafficking in Inverclyde.

"I raised this in committee meetings with the previous and current regional police commander and the council's criminal justice officer and been told I have it all wrong — nothing to see here.

"I would be curious to know if the police still hold this view."

Vietnamese national Quan Van Phan — charged with producing the drug in Port Glasgow — is the latest accused man to receive an intermediate 'positive' decision from the Home Office.

The case comes after his fellow countryman, How Van Hoang, 40, fled after being allowed bail before a 'conclusive' decision in his case had been reached.

How and a 17-year-old Vietnamese youth had been charged regarding a claimed £1m cannabis in a disused bingo hall in the Port.

Another accused man, Albanian national Enea Kurti, 33 — charged with growing cannabis in a house in Kilmacolm — was also awaiting a final decision from the Single Competent Authority (SCA) department of the Home Office.

Councillor Jackson said: "Human trafficking victims are exploited and work in many illegal activities such as servitude, sex work as well as drug cultivation.

"My view has been backed up by human trafficking expert Jim Laird, who has given evidence to parliamentary select committees on this subject identifying Inverclyde as one area of concern.

"Many of these victims are children.

"Would we accept this if it was our own?

"The police and council sweeping this obvious issue under the carpet doesn't help the victims."

Police area commander Chief Inspector Cameron said: "Inverclyde police officers are trained to identify victims of human trafficking.

"Whenever an officer has concerns that someone may be a victim, we prioritise their safety and wellbeing.

"To support Inverclyde, Police Scotland have a National Human Trafficking Unit which maintains an overview of all incidents that may be associated with human trafficking.

"In addition, Inverclyde Police work closely with local social work and health services to ensure any potential victim of human trafficking is identified at the earliest stage.

"The partnership Inverclyde Police have with Inverclyde Council is excellent."

Chief Inspector Cameron added: "Within Inverclyde over the last year, we have identified two males as being victims of human trafficking, and we are currently investigating a further two who may also be victims of human trafficking, and these enquiries are ongoing.

"I would appeal to anyone who has information about human trafficking here in Inverclyde to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 111 555, you have my assurance these matters will always be investigated."

An Inverclyde Council spokesman said: "We take the matter very seriously and will always support our partners to investigate any reports or allegations of trafficking or exploitation."