According to Interior Ministry figures, more than half of immigrants’ claims of modern slavery belong to Albanians.



More than half of modern slavery claims by migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats were filed by Albanians, according to figures obtained by the Interior Ministry under freedom of information laws.

Immigrants from the Balkan state submitted 591 applications in the first six months of last year, representing 51.1 percent of the total 1,156 – five times more than the second largest group from Eritrea.

The think tank Migration Watch, which obtained the figures, said it was further evidence that Albanians were exploiting loopholes in the law “to the top”.

Rishi Sunak has pledged to put pressure on those he claims to be immigrants who are “unjustly exploiting” the modern slavery system established by Britain’s former Home Secretary Theresa May.

Reforms to legislation that will be released next month will raise the threshold the claimant must meet in order to be considered a modern slave.

Caseworkers will also be required to have “objective evidence” of modern slavery rather than mere suspicion before allowing an allegation to be considered.

Five-fold increase in modern slavery claims

Albanians who have secured the right to trial will also be repatriated for processing after the Government receives assurances from Albania that it will protect the real victims.

Head of Migration Monitoring Alp Mehmet said: “This extraordinary data shows that Albanians and their smugglers have identified a huge gap in our legislation and are exploiting it to the fullest.

“The game they play with the system greatly increases the immense pressure that the already overwhelmed system is under. The government has no choice but to plug this hole and do it immediately.”

The data reveal a five-fold increase in the proportion of small-boat migrants from Albania claiming to be victims of modern slavery. While they accounted for 51.1 percent in the first six months of 2022, they represented only 11.2 percent in the previous year.

The figures show that a higher proportion of Albanians arriving in the UK by small boats claim modern slavery. Overall, they accounted for 28.6 percent of such applications in the first nine months of last year, up from 14 percent in 2020.

The rate of successful requests ranged from 22 to 45 percent in the four years to 2022.

On Thursday, the Interior Ministry deported 43 Albanians, including six Channel small boat immigrants and 27 convicted criminals, on a plane bound for Tirana.

They were sentenced to a total of 66 years in prison and possession with the intent to supply class A and B drugs; use of an offensive weapon; theft; fake; embezzlement; robbery.

Among them were: Rixhers Shehi, who was sentenced to six years in Liverpool for his role in the £1m cannabis production; Visar Sellaj, who was sentenced to six years in Leeds for the manufacture/supply of drugs; and Elvia Lika were sentenced to five years in Cambridge for intent to supply drugs.

Mark Davies, Head of Communications and Campaigns for the Refugee Council, said: “The situation with people crossing the English Channel from Albania is complex. We know from our work that smuggling and exploitation is a problem for many people in the country.

“It is very dangerous to assume that all Albanians distort modern slavery claims and make sweeping judgments. Every case should be given a fair assessment.

“The data presented in the report is also highly questionable, the UK Statistics Agency reprimanded the Home Office just a month ago. In 2021, 91% of referrals were deemed by the Home Office to be genuine cases of modern slavery.”

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