U.K. laws making it harder for trafficking victims to receive support come into force - FreedomUnited.org

U.K. laws making it harder for trafficking victims to receive support come into force

  • Published on
    January 31, 2023
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Law & Policy
Hero Banner

New laws in the U.K. that make it even harder for trafficking and modern slavery victims to receive crucial support have come into force this week.

Increasingly punitive restrictions

The Home Office lauded new restrictions to the National Referral Mechanism, the system through which trafficking victims are identified and supported in the U.K.

What is particularly alarming is that the government has been able to push these damaging laws through with no official scrutiny from the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner as this post has been left vacant since April 2022. 

Dame Sara Thornton who previously held the role warned that these new laws “will make the identification of victims of modern slavery harder and create additional vulnerabilities”. 

She had also stated in a report that there was no evidence to justify the government’s dangerous rhetoric that modern slavery survivors are “gaming” the system.

The Independent reports:

The law now requires caseworkers to have “objective evidence of modern slavery rather than mere suspicion” when deciding on the preliminary “reasonable grounds” stage of determination.


The Home Office said more new legislation would be introduced in future to “further strengthen” the National Referral Mechanism and stop it supporting “those who seek to abuse our laws in order to thwart their lawful removal from the UK”.

“Not only is there significant potential to further harm genuine trafficking victims, but there is a significant risk that the measures will not work to deter illegal entry into the UK as envisaged” Dame Sara Thornton wrote in a letter to then Home Secretary Priti Patel in 2021.

Unsubstantiated claims by the U.K. government

A group of UN experts said in December that they were “alarmed by the rise in unsubstantiated claims by public officials and government departments regarding persons seeking protection under the Modern Slavery Act and the National Referral Mechanism” and urgently called on the government to appoint a new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The government’s commitment to dismantle an already lacking support system for modern slavery survivors based on unsubstantiated claims is disturbing and must be resisted.

Freedom United is urgently calling on the U.K. to pass genuine anti-trafficking policies that do not demonise migrants and trafficking victims. 

Sign the petition today.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Fearon
Michael Fearon
1 year ago

Be far more compassionate.

This week

Passing of CSDDD blocked – human rights in danger

What could have been a day to celebrate, has turned into a day full of disappointment. On February 28, 2024, the European Council blocked the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) after the vote had been postponed due to insufficient support, as reported by Reuters. Thirteen out of the 27 member states voted against the law or abstained from the vote, leaving the ‘qualified majority' of 15 countries short of one. A timeline of

| Wednesday February 28, 2024

Read more