Daily Mail

400 migrants arrive on day Suella signs £63m deal

- By David Barrett and George Odling

FOUR hundred migrants crossed the Channel on Monday – the same day that Suella Braverman signed a £63million deal with the French government to tackle the crisis.

The Home Secretary sealed the pact as the number of people to have made the treacherou­s journey this month reached 2,225.

The total for 2022 so far is 42,100 – the number coming from Albania alone has surged to 12,000 this year.

Senior officials from ‘Britain’s FBI’ have now warned that Albanian criminals are committing ‘blatant manipulati­on’ of the UK’s modern slavery laws. The National Crime Agency said Albanian organised crime groups are bringing workers into Britain by small boat to work in the drugs trade, such as on cannabis farms.

In some cases Albanians have been ‘coached’ on how to exploit modern slavery laws if they are arrested, officers said. Police forces have even seen template-style standard letters which make almost identical claims about alleged modern slavery abuse.

The warning indicates for the first time the true scale of exploitati­on of the Government’s ‘National Referral Mechanism’ for modern slavery claims.

Lodging a claim usually means police investigat­ions must stop – and claimants are treated as victims rather than perpetrato­rs. ‘The Albanian criminal community will manipulate the National Referral Mechanism in a fairly extensive fashion,’ said NCA intelligen­ce manager Steve Brocklesby.

‘ If an Albanian illegal migrant is arrested in a cannabis “grow” [farm] then often the first thing they’ll do is claim to be a victim of traffickin­g.

‘That is very different to most other users of the National Referral Mechanism. In many ways it’s blatant manipulati­on and is something we believe is instilled in them before they actually arrive in the UK.’

Mr Brocklesby said ‘standard letters’ are submitted by people who claim to have been trafficked.

‘We hear lots of stories [from police forces] about how the letters might be the same or the individual­s concerned are putting up stories that with a little bit of detective work are being disproved,’ he said.

‘We are convinced organised crime groups and criminals are using the National Referral Mechanism process for their benefit.’

NCA deputy director Andrea Wilson said offenders were ‘ abusing’ modern slavery laws ‘to stay in the UK to commit crime’.

The NCA said the Albanian-linked drugs trade was active across the country in cities, towns and even rural areas.

And Albanian gangs are smuggling profits of hundreds of millions of pounds out of the UK each year, officials went on. Mr Brocklesby said there was a huge ‘pull factor’ for poor Albanians with ‘no prospects’ to come to the UK in order to work illegally or in crime.

‘Exploit modern slavery laws’

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