Albanian migrants who abuse Britain’s anti-slavery laws to avoid deportation could be sent back to make their claims heard in their homeland under a new deal
- Rishi Sunak hopes to sign a new agreement with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama
- May also refer to returning asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies before they can appeal
- 3,432 Albanians claimed to be victims of slavery in the first nine months of the year
Albanians exploiting the UK’s modern slavery laws to avoid deportation could be returned and their claims dealt with in their home country as part of a new agreement between the two countries.
Illegal migrants may also be returned to Albania before they can appeal against a rejected asylum application as part of a new early return agreement Rishi Sunak hopes to sign with the country’s prime minister, Edi Rama.
The number of Albanians crossing the Channel in small boats has risen dramatically and they accounted for a third of arrivals from January to September this year.
Rishi Sunak hopes to sign a speedy return deal with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama
Plans for an expedited return deal moved a step closer last night after Mr Sunak spoke to Mr Rama over the phone, The Times reported.
In a press release, Number 10 said the pair “agreed that more needs to be done to tackle illegal migration and tackle organized crime together.”
They also discussed “closing loopholes preventing the speedy return of rejected asylum seekers” — presumably a reference to preventing Albanians from avoiding deportation by claiming to be victims of modern day slavery.
Ministers are desperate to mend their relationship with Albania after Rama accused the UK of making his people a ‘scapegoat’ for its own ‘failed policies’.
A total of 3,432 Albanians claimed to be victims of slavery in the first nine months of the year – making them the largest nationality under the Modern Slavery Act – and three-quarters of these claims come from adults.
A migrant claiming to be a victim of modern slavery is allowed to remain in the UK while the Home Office processes the claim. This takes an average of 561 days, during which time they can stay with free accommodation and a weekly allowance.
MEPs calling for a fast-track agreement with Albania point out that the country is a signatory to the European Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings, which requires countries to adopt standards to protect victims.
Interior Minister Suella Braverman has previously expressed concern about Albanians making “false” claims under the Modern Slavery Act.
Meanwhile, the ‘Britain’s FBI’ has warned that Albanian criminals are committing ‘blatant manipulation’ of the law to staff their operations in the UK.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said Albanian organized crime groups bring workers across the Channel by small boat to work in the drug trade, such as cannabis farms known as ‘grows’.
In some cases, Albanians have been “coached” on how to claim to be victims of modern slavery if arrested, the agency said.
Police forces have even seen template-style form letters making nearly identical claims.
The agency’s comments reveal the full extent of the exploitation of the government’s “National Referral Mechanism” for modern slavery claims.
Filing a claim usually means stopping police investigations – and treating the claimant as a victim rather than a perpetrator.
“The Albanian criminal community will manipulate the National Referral Mechanism quite extensively,” said NCA intelligence manager Steve Brocklesby.
“We know how – anecdotally, speaking to police forces across the country – that if an Albanian illegal migrant is arrested in a ‘cannabis grow’, the first thing they do is often claim the victim of trafficking.
‘That is very different from most other users of the National Referral Mechanism.
Border Force officials escorted migrants to Dover Docks in Kent yesterday
“In many ways it’s blatant manipulation and it’s something that we think is instilled in them before they actually arrive in the UK.”
It comes as the number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats has moved closer to 44,000 so far this year as dozens more asylum seekers entered the UK illegally yesterday.
About 50 migrants were rescued and taken to the port of Dover, Kent before dawn after making the dangerous overnight crossing of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Wrapped in blankets and wearing face masks, they were brought ashore at the former jetfoil terminal in the Western Docks before being transferred to the controversial immigration processing center 20 miles away in Manston, near Ramsgate.
It emerged yesterday that Channel migrants could be held at the controversial Manston camp in Kent for up to four days under an amendment to the law being considered by ministers.
Currently the processing hub is for transit only with arrivals there for no more than 24 hours under current law.