Dame Sara responds to New Plan for Immigration consultation
On 24 March 2021, the Home Office launched a public consultation to gather feedback on the proposals set out in the New Plan for Immigration policy paper. The New Plan for Immigration has three objectives:
- To increase the fairness and efficacy of our system so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum
- To deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger
- To remove more easily from the UK those with no right to be here
Dame Sara Thornton has today published her response to the consultation, outlining her concerns that the proposals may make it harder to identify potential victims of modern slavery and that they also risk creating new vulnerabilities. Her response encourages putting the protection of those who are vulnerable, in particular victims of modern slavery, as a central thread of the Sovereign Borders Bill.
Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:
“I am concerned that the proposals will make the identification of victims of modern slavery harder and will create additional vulnerabilities. In particular, there is a risk that measures taken to address a potentially small number of abuses will have a considerable impact on many victims of modern slavery.
“There are undoubtedly areas of overlap between modern slavery and immigration. Indeed in 2020, 32% of referrals into the National Referral Mechanism were made by Home Office colleagues in Immigration Enforcement, UK Visas and Immigration and Border Force. However, there is grave danger of viewing victims of modern slavery through an immigration lens and ignoring the trauma and exploitation they have suffered as victims.
“In the past I have welcomed the Home Secretary’s commitment to protecting individuals from exploitation by criminal traffickers and unscrupulous employers. The Sovereign Borders Bill again provides an opportunity to put the protection of the most vulnerable victims of modern slavery at the heart of the proposals.”