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Modern slavery impact of the Nationality and Borders Act

Research project analysing the impact of the UK Nationality and Borders Act's modern slavery provisions on survivors.

A research project led by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), in collaboration with the Human Trafficking Foundation (HTF) and the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG), is investigating the impacts of the UK Nationality and Borders Act (NABA) on the identification and wellbeing of people with lived experience of modern slavery in the UK.

The Nationalities and Borders Act passed into law in April 2022, with a number of its provisions relating to modern slavery coming into effect in January 2023. These include changes to the definition of the 'reasonable grounds' decision within the National Referral Mechanism (NRM, the national system to identify survivors of modern slavery in the UK), the introduction of a procedure to exclude people from modern slavery protections on grounds of public order (if someone served a term in jail) and bad faith, and an altered entitlement to additional recovery periods. Other changes introduced by NABA include new definitions of 'victims' of modern slavery and human trafficking, the adoption of 'Temporary Permission to Stay' guidance, and amendments to the NRM referral form and prompt sheet.

The project is exploring the impact of the changes brought about by NABA on the identification and wellbeing of people with lived experience of modern slavery, including on their decisions to enter the NRM, their ability to access support, and the wider impact on affected communities. The research is also looking at how NABA has impacted NRM decision-making outcomes, and whether the overall impacts are in line with the stated policy objectives of the legislation. While also anticipated to have a considerable impact on people with lived experience of modern slavery, the provisions of the Illegal Migration Act 2023 are out of scope for this project.

The team will carry out a legal and policy analysis of the changes and a literature review regarding the impacts of NABA. A survey for First Responder Organisations, practitioners and legal representatives is currently open (and will remain open until 22 December 2023), and the research team is conducting interviews and focus groups with organisations working on the issue and with people with lived experience of modern slavery.

The project is funded through the Modern Slavery PEC's Commissioned Research mechanism. The project has been commissioned as a 'bolt-on' to the existing project on identification of survivors of modern slavery carried out by BIICL and the Human Trafficking Foundation (HTF), given their expertise in NRM data analysis and experience of engaging First Responders. For this project, the research team will also include the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, whose expertise, membership and networks will be utilised to access research participants and support the development of research tools.

Research team: Noemi Magugliani, Jean-Pierre Gauci, John Trajer (BIICL), Robyn Phillips, (Human Trafficking Foundation), Eleonora Fais (Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group).

Read the project's outputs here.

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