Over half of modern slavery claimants arriving by small boat are Albanian


Over half of modern slavery claimants arriving by small boat are Albanian

January 13, 2023

  • 51.1 per cent of small boat modern slavery (SBMS) referrals made in the first half of 2022 were from Albanians, up from 11.2 per cent in 2021.
  • The number of Albanian SBMS referrals arriving in the first half of 2022 was more than double 2021’s total.
  • We estimate that less than half of SBMS referrals ultimately receive a final positive decision.

Read full paper: MW512 - Modern slavery Referrals by small boat migrants (2018-2022)

In Freedom of Information requests conducted by Migration Watch UK, the Home Office has revealed that over half (51.1 per cent) of those identified or claiming to be potential victims of modern slavery who entered the UK by small boat in the first half of 2022 came from Albania; a significant increase on 2021 when Albanians made up 11.2 per cent of those referred as possible victims of modern slavery.

The FOI further revealed that other nationalities featuring among small boat arrivals referred as possible victims of modern slavery included: Iranians, Eritreans, Sudanese and Vietnamese.

By the year’s end, we estimate that at least 2,300 people undertaking illegal small boat Channel crossings were likely to claim or be identified as potential victims of modern slavery. However, a large influx of Albanians crossing from May to September means the final figure could be much higher.

The FOI data also show that while 2020 saw a high-water mark for SBMS referrals as a proportion of the total, they represent only nine per cent of the total small boat Channel-crossers.

Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch said:

What these remarkable data show is that Albanians and their traffickers have identified a huge loophole in our legislation and are exploiting it to the hilt. Their gaming of the system is adding massively to the great pressure that the already overwhelmed system is under. The government has no option but to plug this gaping hole, and do it quickly.

Notes to the editor

Referrals relate to the National Referral Mechanism, a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery. Any individual claiming or identified to be a victim of modern slavery is recorded statistically as a referral.

Read full paper: MW512 - Modern slavery Referrals by small boat migrants (2018-2022)

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