Albanian Channel migrants are being coached to exploit modern slavery laws to avoid deportation in a “blatant manipulation” of the system, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has said.
NCA chiefs said a “significant number” of the Albanians in the UK had entered illegally to work in the “grey” market or for organised criminal drug gangs and were sending back “hundreds of millions of pounds” a year to Albania.
They said there was evidence from Albania that migrants were told before they left for the UK that if they chose to join crime gangs and were caught, they should claim to be victims of modern slavery in order to avoid deportation and remain in the UK.
They disclosed that police forces around the country had also found Albanians arrested for drug offences had used a “standard letter” to be referred to the national mechanism under the Modern Slavery Act, buying them at least another year in the UK as their claims are processed.
A record 3,467 Albanians have claimed to be modern slavery victims so far this year, nearly 1,000 more than the 2,547 for the whole of 2021, and ahead of any other nationality including Britons. It comes amid a surge in Albanians crossing the Channel, with 12,000 so far this year accounting for a quarter of the total of 42,138.