Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme risks operating as ‘Tinder for sex traffickers’, say charities

UK’s Homes for Ukraine scheme risks operating as ‘Tinder for sex traffickers’, say charities

Michael Gove warned that his housing project has insufficient safeguards for those seeking sanctuary

Michael Gove’s Homes for Ukraine scheme risks operating as “Tinder for sex traffickers” according to experts. The warning comes as evidence emerges that UK-based criminals are targeting women and children fleeing the war.

A letter from 16 refugee and anti-trafficking organisations to communities secretary Gove warns that the scheme in its present form is potentially dangerous for refugees who have fled Ukraine.

It says the initiative, which allows would-be hosts to be matched with Ukrainians seeking sanctuary in the UK, effectively mimics the dating app Tinder’s signature “swipe left, swipe right” approach to rejecting or selecting a partner, and has insufficient safeguards.

Initial evidence from the letter’s signatories, which include Refugee Action, Refugee Council and the Helen Bamber Foundation, said traffickers had already made apparent attempts to target Ukrainian women and children, as had slum landlords.

Louise Calvey, head of safeguarding at charity Refugee Action, said she was aware of a UK resident wanting to offer accommodation only to an orphan, while another had asked to house a single Ukrainian woman because they wanted help with their childcare. Launched just over a week ago, Gove’s scheme prompted a huge response, with about 150,000 offers of support.

However the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has not said how many people have arrived in the UK under the scheme, saying it would “set out full details of the [number of] visas granted” this week.

Ukrainian refugees in the railway station in Przemysl, south-eastern Poland.


Some families who have applied to be sponsors have complained that the system is too complicated. Calvey said: “We are concerned that issues with the scheme means that it risks being a Tinder for sex traffickers. We are already aware of people with illegal motives who are advertising on social media.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “We’ve had concerns from people in the Ukrainian community about dubious Facebook pages and other websites offering a matching service that looks like it might be run by people with an ulterior motive like trafficking, exploitation or unscrupulous landlords.”

The letter, sent to Gove on Saturday, says: “By adopting a hands-off approach to matching, there is a high risk that traffickers, criminals and unscrupulous landlords set up matching sites and Facebook pages to prey upon the vulnerable.”

Calvey also called for police to be brought in to regulate the scheme and target individuals and organised crime gangs seeking to prey on Ukrainian refugees.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), which investigates trafficking, confirmed that it had not been asked by the government to regulate the scheme. Although Gove said initially that hosts would undergo “very light touch” criminal records checks, in fact all will be required to have undergone Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. Yegor Lanovenko, who runs an organisation called Opora, which has drawn up a database for Ukrainians to view sponsors and has recorded 400,000 profile views in a week, said that criminals had also targeted UK residents who wanted to offer Ukrainians a home.

“Everyone just went on Facebook, and posted their passports, houses, addresses with the obvious risks that creates and we’ve seen so many people saying: ‘I just posted on Facebook, now I’ve been scammed five times.’ Who thought that that was going to be a good idea?,” added Lanovenko

Already reports from Poland indicate that women and child refugees who have just fled Ukraine are being targeted by pimps and sex traffickers operating alone and in gangs, according to charities working on the border.

The letter from the 16 organisations “with substantive experience leading resettlement programmes, delivering hosting schemes, supporting refugees and in anti-trafficking” also warns that the scheme is storing up a housing crisis for the autumn: “We are concerned that this scheme, as currently structured, bakes in a refugee housing and support crisis for the autumn. With hosts only having a duty to accommodate refugees for six months, a heavy burden will be placed on local authorities to pick up the pieces if new housing is required.”

The organisations, which also include the No Accommodation Network and Ecpat UK, say that 11,000 Afghans are stranded in hotels months after the fall of Kabul.

A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “No visa is issued by the Home Office until checks have been completed on the Ukrainian applicant as well as on every adult in a sponsor’s household. Local authorities will then run DBS checks on sponsors, with enhanced DBS with barred list checks for those housing families with children or vulnerable adults.

“Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, Ukrainians will be guaranteed free access to NHS healthcare, including mental health care. They will also be able to work and receive benefits. The Government has also ensured that local authorities have appropriate levels of funding to support new arrivals.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
Close
0:00
0:00
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
BVI Freedom Song
What is ChatGPT?
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Hello Dolly
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
China's first population drop in six decades
Yes He Can
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Unforgettable
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
The Lord's Prayer
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
Siyahamba
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Ramblin' Rose
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
Common, John Legend - Glory
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
×