Updated 27 January 2023: ECPAT: Over 100 charities call for action on children going missing from Home Office hotels, at risk of trafficking and exploitation
See also our post here for further information: https://qarn.org.uk/disappearing-children/
Updated 13 October 2022: Guardian: Home Office reclassifies modern slavery as illegal immigration issue
Exclusive: Charities working with victims say it should not be taken away from the safeguarding minister
The Home Office has taken the modern slavery brief away from the minister responsible for safeguarding and classed it as an “illegal immigration and asylum” issue, updated online ministerial profiles show.
The move is seen as a clear sign that the department is doubling down on Suella Braverman’s suggestion that people are “gaming” the modern slavery system and that victims of the crime are no longer being prioritised.
The previous safeguarding minister, Rachel Maclean, had modern slavery on her official list of ministerial responsibilities but her successor, Mims Davies, has no mention of the crime on her list. Instead, modern slavery is listed at the bottom of the “illegal immigration and asylum” brief of immigration minister Tom Pursglove.Advertisement
Under Theresa May, the government pledged to be world leaders in combating modern slavery but Braverman said last week that trafficking claims from “people gaming the system” were “derailing the UK’s policy on illegal migration”.
The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said: “The largest single group of modern slavery victims under the referral system last year were British children – including those who were exploited through county lines.
“The evidence shows the majority of exploitation takes place in the UK rather than across borders.
“The government should be treating this as an enforcement and safeguarding issue and taking stronger action against the crime of modern slavery wherever it takes place.”
Charities working with victims say characterising the crime as an illegal immigration issue is dangerous. More than a quarter of all people identified as potential modern slavery victims are British, according to official statistics.
9 October 2022: Guardian: Watchdog disputes Braverman’s claim modern slavery laws being ‘gamed’
Exclusive: People not trying to claim being trafficked to gain UK asylum, says head of labour abuse authority
The head of Britain’s labour abuse watchdog says her organisation has not seen anyone “gaming” the modern slavery system for immigration purposes.
The comments directly contradict the home secretary, Suella Braverman, who said last week that trafficking claims from “people gaming the system” were “derailing the UK’s policy on illegal migration”.
The chief executive of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, Elysia McCaffrey, said: “We don’t see people gaming the system. That’s not our experience.
“What we see is vulnerable people who are being exploited by opportunists and criminals.”