Migrants are claiming they are victims of modern slavery to avoid deportation from the UK
Illegal immigrants are increasingly claiming that they are victims of modern slavery to avoid deportation.
Latest official figures show that last year almost one in six used the argument – up from one in 33 in 2017.
Anyone trafficked into Britain or used as a slave is protected through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a unit run by the Home Office.
Cases doubled from 5,135 to 10,613 between 2017 and 2020.
Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford, pictured above, has revealed a steep rise in the number of illegal immigrants claiming to be trafficked
The increase is partly because of a better understanding of modern slavery and the referral of children snared by so-called county lines drug gangs.
But Home Office Minister Baroness Williams of Trafford has revealed a steep rise in the number of illegal immigrants claiming to be trafficked.
In a written parliamentary answer, she said: ‘There are concerns about the potential for a referral to the NRM to be used to frustrate immigration enforcement processes to gain access to support inappropriately. There has been a growth in NRM referrals being made after a person enters immigration detention.
‘This raises legitimate concern that some referrals are being made late in the process to frustrate immigration action and that legitimate referrals are not being made in a timely way.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are concerned that our modern slavery protections are open to abuse by illegal migrants’ (pictured: Home Secretary Priti Patel in May this year)
It was reported in April that Albanian gangs running cannabis farms across Britain were escaping prosecution by claiming they were trafficked into the country as slaves.
The National Crime Agency confirmed there had been a recent rise in the number of Albanians being referred to the NRM.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are concerned that our modern slavery protections are open to abuse by illegal migrants, enabling them to avoid immigration detention and frustrate removal from our country.
‘This is diverting resources away from genuine victims of trafficking, which is completely unacceptable.’