Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak shouldn’t feel proud - GulfToday

Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak shouldn’t feel proud

Rishi Sunak gave Suella Braverman her old job back as Home Secretary — despite ministerial code warnings.

Rishi Sunak gave Suella Braverman her old job back as Home Secretary — despite ministerial code warnings.

Jess Phillips, The Independent

Yet imagining how “thrilled” they must be, after the recent tragedy in the Channel, where four people lost their lives, is even more sobering in light of the debate about small boats and immigration. It doesn’t matter what your political persuasion is: nobody can think that the status quo is satisfactory. The status quo is heartbreaking. People are dying.

Rishi Sunak has decided that he wanted to look hard at this issue – and has staked quite a lot of political capital on bringing down the enormous backlog of cases of people waiting in the asylum system. They are currently being housed for months (and sometimes years) in hotel accommodation and encampments. Yet the prime minister seems to want us to ignore the fact that the backlog of cases – which is higher than it has ever been – has happened entirely on his watch.

The man has been in one of the top two jobs in politics consistently while this ridiculously expensive situation has spiralled out of control. The reason people who may not have a claim for valid asylum are housed in hotels for years on end – unable to work, unable to move on with their lives – is entirely the fault of the backlog that the Tory government has allowed to happen. There has not been some seismic increase in the number of people seeking asylum; the thing that has dramatically changed is our ability to process them with any skill or speed. In order to look tough on this issue, as they feel they must, the government has taken aim at the modern slavery system. For context: I worked for years with victims of modern slavery. I developed services of safe accommodation and community support for adults and children who had been enslaved. I met kids like Mo Farah who were trafficked for domestic servitude; I met roomfuls of African and Albanian women who had been sold for slavery and locked in rooms.

I met women who had been trafficked for their organs and teenagers who had slept on the floors of restaurant kitchens. When I worked on this issue, it was largely a service spearheaded by the Modern Slavery Bill, which sought to rescue foreign nationals from exploitation they had suffered in the UK. Our country should be proud of the laws and services it put in place. Ten years ago, they were pretty world-leading.

Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak shouldn’t feel proud. They have seen an opportunity, seemingly, to present the UK modern slavery system as a route for bad people to exploit our welcome. When I worked in this service, it took around 45 days to undertake an assessment to see if someone was a legitimate victim of slavery. Today, it takes more than 500 days to do the same thing. Whose fault is it, exactly, that the system became so exploitable?

The government claimed this week that the massive increase in cases of enslavement is the reason the modern slavery system is overwhelmed. They are trying to make out that loads of foreigners coming over and claiming to be slaves is the problem – it suits their rhetoric, you see. They are not wrong on one thing: there are higher numbers of people seeking support from our human trafficking services, at least since my days in the field.

If only Sunak and Braverman had looked a little closer at the reason for the increase, which is because of UK nationals being trafficked for crime. In 2020 and 2021, the most common nationality of people in our modern slavery system was British. This year’s data is not yet complete, and there may have been a shift – but you can already see from the current data that British nationals are still one of the biggest groups of people in the system. Where exactly is Braverman going to deport these people to: Bury St Edmunds?

The British nationals in this system are the adults and children groomed and exploited for slavery and criminal activity. That means county line gangs and grooming gang victims. I worked recently on a case where a British girl trafficked for sex by dangerous gangs for 10 years, from the age of 13, waited 620 days for a decision on her case for the Home Office to identify her as a victim of modern slavery.

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