LONDON: British government ministers believe that the UK’s 2015 Modern Slavery Act is undermining the ability of authorities to tackle a surge in migrant crossings of the English Channel, The Times reported.
New figures have revealed that 60 percent of people who crossed the Channel over the summer hailed from Albania, and newly appointed Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said that Albanians were “abusing” the terms of the 2015 act to prevent being deported after arrival.
This year, more than 12,000 Albanians arrived in Britain by boat.
The government is preparing a fresh set of policies to permit the fast-track deportation of Albanian migrants before they can engage in spurious asylum appeals via the British legal system.
Jenrick plans to visit Tirana, the Albanian capital, to draft a joint agreement with the country’s government over the deportation proposals.
Albanian migrants now account for 26 percent of those claiming to be victims of modern slavery under the 2015 act, with ministers warning that many of the claims are made on false grounds in order to evade deportation.
Jenrick said: “We will now need to look at some more radical options to ensure that our laws are appropriate, that economic migrants are returned swiftly, and that we deter people from coming to the UK because the UK cannot continue to be a magnet for economic migrants.”
The new deportation strategy will see Albanian migrants “assessed swiftly … dismissed if that’s the right answer and then removed from the country,” he added.
Policing Minister Chris Philp wrote in The Telegraph in August that the UK was being “incredibly naive” in its application of the Modern Slavery Act. He warned that “absurdly low levels” of proof of slavery meant that migrants often needed to provide “no supporting evidence” for their claims.
Former Conservative shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: “It must be a perverse use of the law.
“By allowing people to stay it is doing the very thing it was supposed to prevent.”
The latest attempt by the government to clamp down on Channel crossings came as the number of migrants set to enter the UK this year was expected to reach 50,000, almost double that of 2021.