Modern Slavery and Trafficking

Updated 27 January 2023: ECPAT: Over 100 charities call for action on children going missing from Home Office hotels, at risk of trafficking and exploitation

  • Charities including NSPCC, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society, ECPAT UK and the Refugee Council have written to the Prime Minister
  • Hundreds of children have gone missing from hotels and are suspected of being trafficked and exploited
  • The Home Office is unlawfully housing separated children in unsafe hotels, where they could be targeted by criminals

Over 100 charities from the refugee and children’s sectors have written to the Prime Minister today to express their grave concern about separated children seeking asylum going missing from Home Office hotels. The children are suspected of being exploited and are accommodated outside of the UK’s child welfare framework which applies to all children, regardless of their immigration status.

In the open letter coordinated by ECPAT UK and the Refugee Council, charities including major UK children’s charities NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, Coram, The Children’s Society and National Children’s Bureau, are calling for the Home Office to stop accommodating separated children in hotels with no further delays. They are also calling for children to be cared for by local authority children’s social care, according to the law and with all the safeguards that brings, including having OFSTED oversight, and for an urgent independent inquiry:

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ICIBI Inspection Plan 2022-23

27 January 2023: ICIBI: Role and remit review of ICIBI discontinued

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration expresses disappointment at decision not to proceed with the Windrush Lessons Learned Review’s Recommendation 10.

This Government is not accepting the recommendations arising from the Windrush Review to expand the powers of ICIBI (not surprisingly as Dave Neal has been very vocal). He writes: ‘I look forward to engaging with ministers and officials to ensure further progress towards meeting Williams’s call for the Home Office to become ‘an organisation that is more confident under the gaze of external scrutiny’.

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Racism underpins the hostile environment

There are many many examples of racism in UK and beyond, coming to our attention daily and it is racism that has enabled the hostile environment to take hold such that people are left in a situation where they fear the potential threat to their safety from the Home Office more than they fear the threat to their own lives of the Covid pandemic.

Below, you will find just a small selection of reports about the way in which racism shows itself.

Institute of Race Relations/John O: Calendar of Racism and Resistance Monday 22nd November to Sunday 27th November Callous Indifference: Remembering 32 Lives Lost in the Channel

Exactly a year ago, a dinghy with 34 people on board sank in the English Channel. There were two survivors. In the three hours it took for the boat to sink, as distress messages flooded in from those on board, French and British coastguards debated whose responsibility it was to rescue them. No help came, as one by one the passengers died of cold or drowned. As this week’s Calendar of Racism and Resistance shows, the body investigating the deaths – the worst loss of life in the Channel in over 30 years – the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), will not present its findings until at least early summer next year, and has not yet been in touch with most of the families of those who died, despite being sent their contact details. The families have also been denied access to recordings of their loved ones’ final calls for help. The unmistakable message conveyed by such responses is that these deaths don’t matter and that the families of the deceased are unworthy of respect.

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Tagging

31 October 2022: Institute of Race Relations: From GPS tagging to facial recognition watches: expanding the surveillance of migrants in the UK

Written by Lucie Audibert (Lawyer and Legal Officer, Privacy International) & Monish Bhatia (Lecturer in Criminology, Birkbeck, University of London)

Through its use of GPS tags and smartwatches in immigration enforcement, the UK is extending the reach of surveillance and control of migrants to frightening levels.

In early August, we learned that the Ministry of Justice had awarded a £6m contract for ‘facial recognition smartwatches’ to be worn by foreign national offenders. The devices will track their GPS location 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will require them to scan their faces up to five times a day. The information obtained from the devices, including names, date of birth, nationality, photographs, and location data, will be stored for up to six years and may be accessed by the Home Office and shared with law and border enforcement agencies.

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EU Borders and beyond

Updated 31 July 2022: Spiegel International: Classified Report Reveals Full Extent of Frontex Scandal

The EU’s anti-fraud office has found that the European border agency covered up and helped to finance illegal pushbacks of asylum-seekers in Greece. The report, which DER SPIEGEL has obtained, puts pressure on the EU Commission – and could also spell trouble for Frontex’s new leadership.

The contents of the investigative report from OLAF, the European Union’s anti-fraud agency, are classified. Members of the European Parliament are only granted access under strict security measures, and normal citizens are not allowed to see it. But Margaritis Schinas, the vice president of the European Commission, who is responsible, among other things, for migration, is allowed to. And perhaps he ought to do so as well. At the end of the day, it relates to a sensitive issue that also happens to fall within his area of responsibility.ANZEIGEhttps://2eebc7851d9fadb28ef2834632ce8946.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Investigators have taken 129 pages to document the involvement of Frontex, the EU’s border agency, in the illegal activities of the Greek Coast Guard. Border guards systematically dump asylum-seekers adrift at sea  in the Aegean – either in rickety boats or on inflatable life rafts. 

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Alarming Rise in Asylum Backlog Despite Fall in Applications

Updated 28 June 2022: Freemovement: Briefing: the real state of the UK asylum system

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The United Kingdom’s asylum system has been described by the current Home Secretary as “broken”. There is some truth in that statement. In many ways, the asylum system is now in a parlous state. What the Home Secretary does not say is that it was she who broke it.

[…] The picture the data presents is of a system that has been overwhelmed. Not by new arrivals but by mismanagement. The people arriving to claim asylum are overwhelmingly refugees and they will, eventually, build new lives for themselves in this country. But they must endure bureaucratic purgatory first, seemingly to cleanse them of the supposed sin of irregular arrival. Waiting times for a decision run to years, during which time these refugees are forbidden from work, and forced to endure destitution-level support and temporary accommodation. As well as being bad for the refugees, it is causes an unnecessary charge on the public purse. And then, at the end of the process, despite all the tough posturing by the Home Secretary, almost no-one is removed anyway.

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Home Affairs Committee interviews David Neal, ICIBI – Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration

15 June 2022: Home Affairs Committee Oral evidence:  Migration and asylum, HC 197 on 8 June 2022. The witness is David Neal, ICIBI – Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration: #ICIBI

Members present: Dame Diana Johnson (Chair); Ms Diane Abbott; Paula Barker; Tim Loughton; Stuart C McDonald; Matt Vickers

Read the transcript: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/10372/html/

Watch the meeting


This interview raises many interesting issues about the relationship between ICIBI, Priti Patel and Home Office Ministers; about David Neal’s use of his role; and about the limitations of the system in keeping the system to account.

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ICIBI: Inspection Report on Country of Origin Information: Ethiopia, Iran and Zimbabwe_January 2022

ICIBI: Inspection Report on Country of Origin Information: Ethiopia, Iran and Zimbabwe_January 2022 #ICIBI

This is a report by Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration – ICIBI, who have examined the Country Guidance documents about Ethiopia (page 8), Iran (page 36), and Zimbabwe (page 74). These are important documents because they inform caseworkers’ decisions about asylum claims. The whole report with the Home Office replies is here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1071564/Inspection_Report_on_Country_of_Origin_Information__Ethiopia__Iran_and_Zimbabwe_January_2022.pdf

Home Office response in full: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/response-to-an-icibi-report-on-country-of-origin-information/response-to-an-icibi-report-on-country-of-origin-information-accessible-version

Recommendations for action to curb the COVID-19 pandemic

Updated 19 January 2021: JCWI: “We also want to be safe” – undocumented migrants facing COVID in a Hostile Environment

Executive Summary

This report explores undocumented migrants’ experiences of the COVID pandemic. It focuses on financial security, work, housing and access to healthcare, and highlights how in all these areas, the Government’s Hostile Environment policies have exacerbated the effects of the COVID crisis for undocumented people. Download the report

Take action to make sure the COVID inquiry includes migrants

Read more here: https://www.jcwi.org.uk/we-also-want-to-be-safe-report

You can sign the JCWI letter: ‘We also want to be safe’ – Sign our open letter

Faced with COVID, the Government should have done everything in its power to ensure everyone had support. Everyone needs a way to earn a living, access to the public safety net if they need it, safe accommodation, and access to vaccines and the NHS.

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‘Off-shoring’ people seeking asylum is not a new idea

Floating barriers, wave machines, old ferries, shipping people to far away places … Out of sight, out of mind!

The ‘backlog’ can be dealt with by giving people Leave to Remain now. This post is also uploaded to the https://statusnow4all.org website.

Updated 17 January 2022: City AM: Army to take control as govt plans to order Royal Navy to stop Channel migrants and fly asylum seekers to Rwanda and Ghana

The Prime Minister is planning to slow the flow of migrants into the UK by calling in the army and fly asylum seekers to a number of African countries, including Ghana and Rwanda, to process their applications there.

According to a report in The Times this morning, Boris Johnson plans to give the Royal Navy ‘primacy’ over all government-run and owned vessels in the Channel later this month.

A rear admiral will reportedly be given the powers to oversee the Border Force, coastguard, fisheries protection and customs and excise to carry out surveillance or intercept migrants that attempt to cross the Channel.

Read more: https://www.cityam.com/army-to-take-control-as-govt-plans-to-order-royal-navy-to-stop-channel-migrants-and-fly-asylum-seekers-to-rwanda-and-ghana/

See how Governments think it will work! …

Allan Olingo@allanolingo: RWANDA rejects 250,000 Covid-19 vaccines from Denmark over claims the donation was attached to Kigali accepting to host asylum centres for Denmark. The two countries’ officials met in September 2021 but Kigali has since rejected the vaccines and proposal-Danish media reports.” https://mobile.twitter.com/allanolingo/status/1482648556607524865

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Statements on Afghanistan

StatusNow logo

See below: 29 August 2021: StatusNow4All: Living Precariously or Health and Safety for All – a call for Indefinite Leave to Remain now


Updated 4 September 2021: Worth knowing: DLA Piper are hosting a scheme supported by ILPA where over 400 volunteer lawyers are taking on pro bono cases of people needing to get out of Afghanistan. Email is projecta@dlapiper.com

i : Hundreds of lawyers team up to help Afghans flee Taliban – and navigate complex refugee systems in the West

The government’s naming of its Afghan resettlement scheme ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ is ‘cynical’ given other obstacles, organiser warns

Nearly 400 lawyers and immigration professionals have teamed up with one of the world’s biggest law firms to form a new group to help people trying to flee Afghanistan, i can reveal.

The group, which is yet to be formerly named but operates as the Afghan Immigration Group, was founded by a clutch of UK asylum lawyers in an attempt to share information and work co-operatively to assist as many people as possible left in danger since the West withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban seized power.

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Covid-19 And The Surge In Domestic Abuse In The UK

People who are undocumented are at real risk of being sucked into abusive relationships in order to survive, and once there, it is very very difficult to leave.


Women’s Aid: Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to, the following:


At this time of Covid-19, people subjected to domestic abuse are very isolated, and have fewer chances to leave the house, for example children are not at school, shopping is kept to a minimum; and tensions indoors mount.

We know that people subjected to such abuse are often frequently lied to about being believed, or they are told their children will be removed, that their whereabouts will be reported to the Home Office which will potentially lead to the risk of immigration detention and removal from UK in this hostile environment, and they now are fearful of breaking Covid lockdown rules.

The impact of the ‘toxic trio’ of drug abuse, mental health issues and alcohol is well-known to raise concerns about risk of domestic abuse. When undocumented status is added to this toxic mix, the potential for ongoing serious risk of harm is massively increased.


16 April 2021: Guardian: Anger as Tory MPs vote against register for stalkers and domestic abusers

Government rejects measures despite briefing they would support them after death of Sarah Everard

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Priti Patel’s detention policies found to breach human rights rules

14 April 2021: The Guardian: Priti Patel’s detention policies found to breach human rights rules

Court finds home secretary accountable for failures to ensure that deaths in immigration detention centres are investigated properly

A landmark court ruling has held the home secretary, Priti Patel, accountable for failures in ensuring that deaths in immigration detention centres are properly investigated.

Two judges in the immigration court ruled on Wednesday that three of the home secretary’s detention policies breached human rights rules and that she could not frustrate or undermine inquiries into these deaths.

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Podcast: Still We Rise: Episode 8 – Internal Borders In Britain

13 April 2021: CARAG – Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group: Still We Rise: Episode 8 – Internal Borders In Britain

In this week’s Podcast we speak to Dr Kathryn Medien who is a Sociology Lecturer at the Open University. We examine her research into the development and use of internal borders in Britain as a form of racialised governance. She traces numerous elements of what we now know as the Hostile Environment to key Legislative changes in the 1970’s & 80’s.

Listen here: https://www.carag.co.uk/podcast/episode/24a0af13/episode-8-internal-bordersin-britain

Link to CARAG – Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group

A secretive Home Office unit has hoarded data on millions of people

7 April 2021: Wired: The Data Services & Analytics unit holds information on 650 million people and has been accused of creating a “super database”

A data analytics team close to the heart of government has collected data on more than 650 million people, including children under the age of 13, according to newly unearthed documents.

The Data Services & Analytics unit is described as “one of the most advanced data analytics centres in government” and forms part of the Home Office’s Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) department. It builds decision-making tools and provides data-driven insights to the rest of the Home Office – although details of exactly what it does remain tightly guarded.

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