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Home Office reclassifies modern slavery as illegal immigration issue

The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has pledged to make it harder for migrants, she believes, are claiming to be victims of modern slavery to come to the UK in an apparent attempt to restrain illegal channel crossings.

Modern slavery describes situations where offenders use coercion, threats, or deception to exploit people and undermine their freedom. It can occur in every industry and sector and has severe consequences for victims.

To combat modern slavery, the government introduced the Modern Slavery Act in March 2015 to give law enforcement the tools to ensure perpetrators can receive suitably severe punishments and to enhance support for victims.

Braverman claimed: “migrants are abusing the system and claiming to be victims in order to reach Britain’s isles”. She believes reforming the Modern Slavery Act will allow officials to remove people out of the country who have exploited the modern-day slavery rights.

However, despite Braverman’s claims of people exploiting the system, it was reported that 97% of all modern slavery referrals concluded in the first half of this year were confirmed as genuine by the authorities.

Due to the Home Secretary’s claims, the Home Office has taken the Modern Slavery brief away from the minister responsible for safeguarding, Mims Davies, and classed it as an “illegal immigration and asylum” issue.

However, 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.

Olivia Field, head of policy at the British Red Cross, said: “Modern slavery is a crime that can impact people no matter where they are from or where they are in the world. We would urge the lens on tackling modern slavery to be a safeguarding one focused on protecting people impacted by this crime, as opposed to being treated as an immigration issue.”

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