Dame Sara responds to the Nationality and Borders Bill  


The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, has written to the Home Secretary in response to the Nationality and Borders Bill which was introduced on 6 July 2021.


Dame Sara’s letter refers to the Bill as a whole where measures may impact victims of modern slavery with detailed focus on Part 4 Modern Slavery. The letter highlights the potential for the legislation to make the identification of modern slavery victims harder. It raises concerns that the proposals will increase vulnerability to trafficking but may not  deter migrants from putting themselves in the hands of the smugglers and traffickers. Finally, it warns that the proposal that those sentenced to twelve months or more in prison should not receive support within the National Referral Mechanism could significantly undermine the ability to bring traffickers to justice.


The Bill has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee for scrutiny following the Second Reading debate in the House of Commons in July. The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner will give oral evidence to the Committee on Thursday 23 September alongside Siobhán Mullaly, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.


Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said:

“I am pleased that the government response to the New Plan for Immigration consultation acknowledged the need to identify and mitigate unintended consequences, and ensure safeguards are in place to protect the vulnerable. Having read the Nationality and Borders Bill, however, I remain concerned that plans will make the identification of victims of modern slavery harder and will create additional vulnerabilities.

I am particularly concerned about Clause 51 and the relatively low threshold for defining public order grounds, which presents a real risk to victim engagement in prosecutions and consequently could significantly undermine our ability to bring traffickers to justice.

I would also highlight the lack of detail on provisions for children. Reforms must put children’s rights and protections first and decisions taken with their best interests as a priority."


Read the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s letter to the Home Secretary here.