Immigration Detention: Victims of Modern Slavery

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Diane Abbott Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary 1:59 pm, 17th July 2019

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. On 19 June this year, the Immigration Minister provided a written answer on the possible immigration detention of persons who are in fact victims of slavery. The written answer read as follows:

“there is no central record” of such persons, and

“The Home Office therefore does not collate or publish the data requested”.

However, we now learn from a freedom of information request by The Independent that that is not the case: 500 victims of enslavement or trafficking were held in immigration detention. I have myself visited Yarl’s Wood detention centre and met such persons.

In response to an earlier written question on 20 December last year, the Immigration Minister said:

“in cases in which it has been found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an individual may be a victim of trafficking or modern slavery, the appropriateness of their being detained, or of their detention continuing, is governed by the Home Office’s modern slavery policy. This means that such individuals will not be detained”.

How many people who are victims of trafficking or modern slavery have been held in previous years? How many such people are currently held? Are the Government not in breach of their own stated policy on detention? How many of the 400 detainees were assessed as being a threat to public order and on what grounds? Does the Minister accept that when she responded to the written question saying that no data was available, she was in fact misleading the House?