Friday, May 18, 2018

Hostile immigration environment hinders anti-slavery efforts

The UK’s first-ever Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has resigned citing government interference in his role.

The law guarantees the independence of the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner, who is responsible for improving the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences.

“At times independence has felt somewhat discretionary from the Home Office, rather than legally bestowed,” Mr Hyland wrote. “I hope that any future incumbent can be assured the independence I am sure you intended as the author of the legislation.”
The Focus on Labour Exploitation (Flex) group accused the Home Office of hampering progress with its “tight control” over Britain’s modern slavery response.
Caroline Robinson, director of Flex, said: “When potential slavery victims are arrested during immigration raids then it plays into the hands of trafficking gangs, who use fear of the authorities as a way to control people. It also prevents people coming forward to report their exploitation. Without strong independent oversight of the modern slavery response, and a clear separation with immigration control policies, then many of the Prime Minister’s strong commitments to tackle modern slavery will be undermined and we will see more of society’s most vulnerable arrested instead of receiving the help they desperately need.”
Campaigners said the National Referral Mechanism should not have been brought in-house last year amid “hostile environment” immigration policies that are seeing potential victims arrested.
In decisions on non-EU nationals only, the Home Office recognised 14 per cent of referrals as victims of trafficking, but the National Crime Agency’s dedicated unit recognised 67 per cent. 

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