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Immigration Enforcement to decide human trafficking claims
Credit: 10 Downing Street on Flickr

Immigration Enforcement to decide human trafficking claims

Immigration Enforcement has been given the power to decide whether or not someone is a victim of human trafficking. An update to the Modern Slavery guidance, published on 8 November, includes an “Immigration Enforcement Competent Authority” alongside what was the sole, centralised decision-making body, the “Single Competent Authority”.

The Immigration Enforcement Competent Authority is responsible for:

  • All adult Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) detained in an Immigration Removal Centre.
  • All adult FNOs in prison where a decision to deport has been made.
  • All adult FNOs in prison where a decision has yet to be made on deportation.
  • Non-detained adult FNOs where action to pursue cases towards deportation is taken in the community .
  • All individuals detained in an Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) managed by the National Returns Command (NRC), including those in the Detained Asylum Casework (DAC) process.
  • All individuals in the Third Country Unit (TCU)/inadmissible process irrespective of whether detained or non-detained.

That leaves the Single Competent Authority with all other trafficking cases, including any concerned with children.

The Home Office professes to believe that the trafficking system is being abused. 90% of trafficking referrals from detention centres in 2019 saw the person pass the first stage, the “reasonable grounds” decision, according to internal analysis. Giving the department’s enforcement arm its own decision-making powers is likely intended to foster a culture of greater scepticism about trafficking claims from people being lined up for deportation.

CJ McKinney is Free Movement's editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering pitches. CJ is an adviser on legal and policy matters to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, and keeps up with the wider legal world as a contributor to Legal Cheek. Twitter: @mckinneytweets.