There is an alarming correlation between homelessness and an increased risk to human trafficking. In London, Albanian and Romanian nationals account for the second and third highest nationalities that have experienced both human trafficking and homelessness. This is particularly exacerbated given the immigration context they face in the UK. For example, Albania is not part of the EU, which makes it more likely for Albanians to enter irregularly, and the incoming Illegal Migration Act 2023 has the potential to dramatically inhibit the ability of victims and survivors within the Albanian and Romanian communities to access support. In the ongoing battle against human trafficking, it’s imperative to shine a light on the connection between homelessness and exploitation. Unveiling this nexus is crucial and urgent to provide actionable recommendations to prevent them from happening.

As part of these ongoing efforts, STOP THE TRAFFIK Group (STTG) undertook a research study into understanding how this exploitation of Albanian and Romanian nationals takes place in the London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and the City of Westminster. The aim of the study was to produce meaningful and actionable findings, learnings, and recommendations concerning exploitation and its links to homelessness, as well as to identify injustices faced by target communities in relation to housing.

This report was made possible due to funding and support from social justice charity Commonweal Housing. STTG carried out 14 interviews with survivors, case workers, non-governmental organisations, and law enforcement between October 2023-January 2024 for its content.   

Key topics discussed in the report include:

  • Immigration regulation and context.
  • Housing for MSHT victims and survivors according to the NRM procedure.
  • Findings on exploitation of Albanian and Romanian nationals in London.
  • Findings on housing provided to victims and survivors of MSHT.
  • Recommendations.

The report describes the intrinsic link between the exploitation faced by Albanian and Romanian nationals and their housing situation. It also highlights the problems faced by the accommodation services provided by local authorities and how this can increase the risk of re-exploitation. To tackle these issues, the report ends with targeted recommendations to relevant stakeholders including the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, local authorities, and civil legal aid providers.

We would like to thank Commonweal Housing for making this project possible through their generous funding. We would also like to thank all external partners involved in our interview process that allowed for such detailed insight into this experience faced by Albanian and Romanian nationals in London. Through our methodology and research process, our report shines a light on this trend. This provides a solid foundation on which to build an effective response to combat this issue. We now call on our community and the stakeholders targeted in our recommendations to work together to disrupt and prevent this exploitation taking place.

Click here to read the full report.

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