The number of alleged victims of modern slavery in the United Kingdom reported to authorities in the country has hit an all-time high, official documents have revealed.
Published by the country’s Home Office, the statistics come amid reports both of slavery sweatshops in Britain being ignored by police fearful of being called racist, as well as reports that boat migrants are now claiming to be victims of modern slavery in order to make themselves harder to deport.
According to the data published on Thursday, 4,171 potential victims of modern slavery were reported to the Home Office in Quarter 2 of 2022, ranging from the dates 1 April to 30 June.
This is the highest quarterly number recorded by the government ministry since it began its National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for modern slavery in 2009.
Of this number, officials report that around four in five of those referred to the government department as being victims of slavery, servitude, or forced labour were men, with around two in five claiming to be victims of modern slavery declaring themselves to officials as being children.
With 48 per cent of those referred to the service claiming to have been enslaved in the United Kingdom, Thursday’s statistics make for some hard reading.
This is especially the case considering the recent history of modern slavery in the United Kingdom, with reports emerging in 2020 that there could be as many as 100,000 modern slaves working in the United Kingdom.
To make matters worse, police and government agencies are said to have ignored the operations of various British sweatshops built on the labour of South Asian slave workers, who were paid as little as ?3.50 (~$4.30) an hour to produce clothes for British fashion brands, for fear that they could be labelled racist.
However, recent reports indicate that many boat migrants who may not actually be victims of modern slavery may in fact now be reporting themselves as being such to British authorities.
In particular, Albanians hoping to make their deportation from Britain more difficult have reportedly been claiming to be victims of modern slavery, using the fact that they arrived in the country via small boats operated by people-traffickers to try and justify their story.
Albanians now make up around four in 10 migrants who are illegally crossing the English Channel.
“Illegal migrants who have travelled to the UK from safe countries have sought modern slavery referrals, which have prevented and delayed their removal or deportation,” one government source said in regard to the tactic, which they condemned.
“It is imperative that this system is fixed quickly, and for good. Unless we make drastic reforms, the true victims of modern slavery will continue [to] suffer, with excessive decision-making periods and a system that rewards those who seek only to exploit it,” they went on to say.
While it is at this point impossible to say whether or not this scheme used by migrants to stay in the United Kingdom is the ultimate cause for the record spike in referrals, it should be noted that the most represented nationality among alleged victims was indeed Albanians, who made up 27 per cent of all of this quarter’s potential victims.