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Home Secretary wrong to claim “many” migrants exploiting modern slavery laws

Human Trafficking
6 October 2022
Suella B min

Press release: analysis undermines government claims

CARE has criticised the Home Secretary for false and misleading claims about migrants exploiting modern slavery laws.

In a speech to the Tory Party conference this week focusing on immigration, Suella Braverman said “modern slavery laws are being abused by people gaming the system”.

She claimed that “many” people are making spurious claims order to avoid being deported: “We’ve seen a 450% increase in modern slavery claims since 2014. Today, the largest group of small boats migrants are from Albania – a safe country.

“Many of them claim to be trafficked as modern slaves. That’s despite them having paid thousands of pounds to come here or having willingly taken a dangerous journey...The truth is that many of them are not modern slaves and their claims of being trafficked are lies”.

The Home Secretary went on to warn that foreign nationals with a criminal record are: “Making last minute claims of modern slavery to block their removal from our country”.

Analysis of official data by Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) shows that false or spurious claims are not a significant threat under existing legislation.

The potential for spurious claims being successful under the official National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is low given the system's design. Rebecca Stevenson, a trafficking policy expert at CARE explained:

“It is unlikely that there are many spurious claims as an individual cannot self-refer into the NRM. A referral is made by a first responder who needs to have evidence of potential trafficking. A person’s referral into the NRM may delay a person’s deportation but will not be stalled unless the person receives a reasonable grounds decision based on the Government’s own criteria.

“The 2021 NRM data for reasonable grounds decisions made on referrals shows around 90% of decisions made in 2021 led to positive reasonable grounds decisions. Once a person gets this decision, they are entitled to support and cannot be deported until they have a conclusive grounds decision. The 2021 NRM data for conclusive grounds decisions shows 90% of decisions made in 2021 led to positive conclusive grounds decisions.”

Ms Stevenson added:

“In terms of the Home Secretary’s claims regarding foreign criminals masquerading as trafficking victims, this issue was brought up by the Government in March 2021 when they said individuals in immigration detention were claiming to be victims to avoid deportation. The data published then showed that just 2% of all NRM referrals were foreign national offenders in immigration detention, and that 73% had a reasonable grounds decision. Not all the claims made were spurious.”


Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) provides analysis of social policy from a Christian perspective. For more information or to request an interview, contact

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