The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner publishes publishes paper on long-haul recruitment risks and emerging best practice



The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC) Dame Sara Thornton has today published a paper on visa systems and long-haul recruitment in the agricultural and care sectors.


In February 2022, IASC hosted a roundtable in collaboration with the UK BME Anti-Slavery Network (BASNET) which explored the challenges of international recruitment in these two sectors. It discussed the how labour shortages, and new immigration rules post Brexit, were changing the profile of the workforce and also explored the added risks of long distance recruitment.


A wide range of attendees including academics, agricultural scheme operators and government and local council members considered what measures businesses, government and law enforcement should be taking to protect migrant workers in the most culturally appropriate manner.


This paper sets out participants concerns about eight risk areas for long-haul migrant workers which are particularly relevant, but not limited to, the agricultural and care sectors: 

  1. Application and travel costs
  2. Corrupt agencies and the culture of recruitment fees
  3. Organised criminal gangs
  4. Online Scams or misleading adverts
  5. Overstaying visas
  6. Potential abuse of the skilled worker visa route
  7. Cultural control
  8. Fear of shame


It also highlights emerging best practice examples within these two sectors, including: 

  • Education and training
  • Training
  • Intelligence
  • Building trust with the local community


The paper concludes with a series of recommendations offered by roundtable participates to reduce the risks of exploitation in both the agriculture and care sectors.


Read the paper here.



Dame Sara Thornton, Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, commented:

Evidence suggests that workers migrating over longer distances are at greater risk of exploitation, particularly in the form of recruitment fees, bogus recruitment and debt bondage. It is essential that we have robust safeguarding systems in place to protect these individuals and to prevent labour exploitation within UK businesses. I remain particularly concerned about the agriculture and care sectors which we know are recruiting increasing numbers of workers from overseas, and which have already been identified by government as high risk areas.

“The IASC roundtable provided a valuable opportunity for inclusive, evidence-based conversation about serious concerns as well as what works at a policy level and on the ground. The recommendations in this paper reflect the importance of a multi-partnership response between government, business and local communities. It is therefore vital all parties work together to build momentum on safeguarding workers in this space.”