Patel is also facing further questions over attempts to justify her nationality and borders bill, which has been criticised for excessive cruelty to asylum seekers and will reduce support for victims of human trafficking.
On 20 March the Home Office issued a statement claiming an “alarming rise in people abusing our modern slavery system by posing as victims in order to prevent their removal and enable them stay in the country”. The official statement, initially leaked to the Sun, was supported by a quote from Patel that said: “Our generous safeguards for victims are being rampantly abused by child rapists, people who pose a threat to national security and failed asylum seekers with no right to be here.”
Her comments were used to help push for sweeping changes to the system for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking.
Yet an FoI response to queries by ECPAT UK reveals that the Home Office’s modern slavery unit could not provide data for child rapists, national security threats or failed asylum seekers referred into the modern slavery system since 2017. The response clarifies that it would need to trawl case files to compile the data, suggesting a lack of existing data for the claims made by Patel and the Home Office.