Meeting on 23 January 2015

HTF Advisory Forum

23rd January 2015

MINUTES

 

1.        Welcome by the Chair, Baroness Butler-Sloss

Welcomed Government representatives.

Sent apologies from the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, explained his five priorities:

· Victim care and management

· Training (for frontline workers)

· Partnerships – in particular understanding best-practice in developing regional models

· Evaluation of activity across the country

· Private sector engagement and collaboration

 

2.        Updates on the Modern Slavery Bill

Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss (EBS): Report Stage due w/c 23rd February. Hope to get through by end of March. Bill is good, not good enough, but a solid start. More amendments will be put down, but don’t expect much change. There will be other opportunities in other legislation.

Sir John Randall MP (JR): Bill much better than expected. Government is not trying to play for time, there is a time constraint. Expecting Lords to send a few amendments back to the Commons. Need to ensure cross party consensus. Time for probing amendments is almost over. Want to ensure little or no ‘Ping Pong’ (when a Bill passes back and forth between the two Houses debating amendments to the Bill).  Bill has 6 or 7 weeks left.

EBS: will vote at Report Stage unlike Committee:

Commissioner duties

Child offence

Primary legislative for powers to the Home Secretary re GLA, NRM etc

Supply chain monitoring: should be monitored by Anti-Slavery Commissioner?

Baroness Hamwee: legislation will not do everything. Parliament is only one part of the jigsaw. Current ‘pause’ only for the reason that other legislation is going through the Lords at the moment (Lord Bates also has Counter Terrorism Bill). Expect Bill to come back for report stage after recess, w/c 23rd February. Work is going on in the Home Office – met with Lord Bates to talk about the Bill and amendments. There will be six meetings with the Lords and Lord Bates regarding Overseas Domestic Workers Visa, Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Child Guardians, offences etc.

Parliament will dissolve at end of March. “Ping Pong” possible, but everyone working hard to make sure everything is agreed and to avoid sending the Bill backwards and forwards. Home Office and parliamentarians all keen for the Bill to go through. There shouldn’t be any obstacles.

EBS: no shortage of Peers who will vote against the government – Peers vote according to conscience rather than Party.

 

3.                                Announcements by Forum members

Rebecca Darby, NSPCC, Head of Modern Slavery Helpline. Work to be done in following how to reach NGOs working with victims. Follow up with adult social services and child services.

645 contacts since launch on 31/07/14 to 22/01/15 (phone calls, emails, on-line referrals). Of those 379 referrals have been made to police and/ or children's services.

Charlie Blythe, the A21 Campaign: Launch of a new SAFE project offering voluntary repatriation and reintegration to victims of trafficking to the countries where the A21 campaign has offices/shelters, mainly Greece, Bulgaria, Ukraine.

Samina Yakub, Housing for Women: Launch of a new floating pan-London support service for victims of trafficking living inNASS accommodation (detailed information attached separately).

Sarah Byrt: Smart phone evidence crime reporting app called Witness Confident. Makes sure information gets to correct police force. Will be useful tool for when public awareness increases. ACPO has directed Police to accept the reports. 11,000 downloads since 2014 launch (leaflet attached).

Joanna Bell, Saltmine Theatre: London Premier of John Newton Amazing Grace, which will be performed on Tuesday 10th March at Notre Dame de France, Leicester Place (flyer attached).

Tatiana Jardan on behalf of Prof. Gary Craig: Dr Alex Balch of Liverpool University and Prof Gary Craig have secured funding to run a series of four workshops on what needs to be done on forced labour once the Bill becomes an Act. Further details will be sent later.

Tatiana Jardan, Human Trafficking Foundation: National Network Coordinator’s Forum is a body composed of coordinators and/or their delegates from the anti-slavery and human trafficking multi-agency networks/partnerships. It has been established by the HTF to promote inter-regional cooperation and sharing of best practice nationally within the UK.

HTF continues to work with Embassies in London, mainly with Central and East European Embassies. A round-table is being organised jointly with the Slovakian Embassy and is planned for April, 2015. Main aim for 2015 is to expand the Embassy initiative and to target Diaspora community organisations to raise awareness about modern-slavery in the communities.

 

4.        Beyond the Bill

4.1    Political lobbying

Baroness Hamwee: It is important to seek compromise to make progress rather than polarise. There will be further Home Office Bills to attach anti-trafficking amendments to.

EBS: Forum members should join together to share their concerns, lobbying and campaigns, so when the time comes for future lobbying, will be prepared. Also Justice legislation. Possibly FCO.

4.2    Policy and Campaigning

EBS: Suggested topics:  National Referral Mechanism, Return and Reintegration schemes, Data Collection and reporting, Multi-Agency work – networks and partnerships, training, etc.

Megan Stewart, independent consultant: Will the collection of data include information provided just by NRM or other services? E.g. homeless services.

EBS: would like to see Commissioner with responsibility to gather data as widely as possible. Portuguese scheme – “Observatory” – is a good example.

JR: Important to keep the pressure on Government after the Bill becomes an Act. Look for new opportunities in other legislation. Most importantly, it has to be a united voice and joint approach.

Robbie Kent, Head of the Modern Slavery Unit in the HO – The Unit will continue its work after the Bill. Government strategy needs to be followed through, and there will be a review in 12 months.

Klara Skrivankova, Anti-Slavery International: three jurisdictions in UK – Northern Ireland, Scotland and Westminster, each will have a Bill. This might cause practical issues, in particular in cross-border cases with British territories. Northern Ireland Bill contains detailed provisions on victim protection that need to be looked at and possibly taken up. Loopholes between the 3 legislations will benefit traffickers, not victims. NRM – need to ensure parity in assistance and support for victims across all the country.

Robbie Kent: There are some positive sides of all three jurisdictions having legislation at the same time. All three governments are talking to each other and are seeking to join up. Have to work together to address the issues and challenges.

Chloe Setter, ECPAT UK: Response of various governments disparity – Scottish Bill lacking, MSB guardianship trial unsure, NI most robust. There is a patchy and inconsistent response to child trafficking, particularly by the local authorities which leaves children very vulnerable to exploitation. Need better training of social workers, and getting OFSTED involved.

EBS: Clause 47 of the Bill says – Secretary of State MUST make arrangements, not MAY. Hoping Government will agree to Lord McColl’s amendment – but possibility in secondary legislation.

Julie Shanley, the Medaille Trust: Have come across major problems with age assessments by the local authorities (6 weeks on a recent case – 16 year old receiving adult support in a shelter). Merton scheme - not acceptable provision as it is.

EBS: Clause 49 – presumption about age. Public authority must assume that person is under 18.

Chloe Setter: Welcome clause 49, but problem is in practical implementation, often due to lack of training. Barnardo’s trials – ongoing, interim report due in March. There have been difficulties around advocates having access to certain things and collaborating with Local authorities. This report will be too late for Bill. It’s a pity that NI model and evidence not being taken into account.

Juliette Nash, ATLEU: Great difficulty with age assessment. Problems with LA practice. Lack of knowledge and training about the specifics of trafficking, and problems with data.

David Rees Jones, Helen Bamber Foundation: Merton age assessment scheme - different in scope and form for child who may have been trafficked. May have to go back to start and look at college of social work. New guidance needed.

Dorcas Erskine, Poppy project: NRM – some issues are not covered by the strategy. To implement the Government Strategy financial resources have to be allocated – e.g. NRM provisions. What conversations is HO having with Local Authorities about this?

Philip Clayton, City Hearts: Trying to educate Local Authorities in Liverpool. There are issues with which providers should fund which services?

Philippa Roberts, Hope for Justice: Holistic approach for support for victims to be looked at by government. Need ‘exit’ strategy from shelters. Continuous legal advice is essential for victims.

Kate Roberts, Kalayaan: Increasingly seeing people referred to NRM who are pushed into the asylum system as it provides at least some support after exiting shelters. Individuals being pushed into inappropriate route because of lack of funding. Cuts on legal aid mean - victims of trafficking unable to make compensation claims, e.g. employment claims etc.

Juliette Nash: Legal organisations are only allowed to make 5 claims a year. Government agency obstructing and perpetuating the problem. Needs judicial review. Need network of lawyers.

EBS: asked Juliette Nash to email Baroness Hamwee and EBS on these issues.

Susan Fortescue, Soroptomists of Poole, Purple Teardrop: Raised concern over internet service providers and dvertising of sexual services. BT reacted favourably, but trouble getting others on board.

EBS: EU nationals and voluntary return schemes? Is there FCO money available?

Robbie Kent: The new Strategy will expand return and reintegration programme to include EU nationals - ‘options programme’ for EU nationals.

Klara Skrivanskova: There are many victims who are trafficked to UK, return home, and only in their country of origin are identified as victims.

Latvian government have fund for returns, and partly the Slovakian Government through IOM Bratislava. There are some limited funds and programmes, but not unified approach.

Tatiana Jardan: HTF has been talking to the Home Office regarding offering return and reintegration support to those who volunteer to go home regardless of their nationality. Not just a plane ticket, needs to be for ‘settlement’ support, e.g. training. Last year Slovakian Embassy identified approximately 170 potential victims, whereas IOM Bratislava return and reintegration scheme can provide help to 35 victims. What happens with the rest?

Megan Stewart: GLA (London) funded schemes for R&R services to EU nationals through a Reconnections project run by Thames Reach. Since 2009 repatriated 3,000 people. 130 victims of trafficking. Partner agency Caritas.

Chris Gaul, Migrant Help: Who will provide R&R assistance to EU nationals? Will the contract be re-tendered?

Robbie Kent: Resources are needed, but there is no easy solution. Constraints do, and will, exist. NRM – trying to talk to as many organisations as possible to make sure trial schemes work. Offer for people to be a part of these processes.

Yes, R&R assistance contract will be retendered.

EBS: When talking about further campaigning and policy change, we should not forget about trafficking within the UK.

Megan Stewart: Trafficking of homeless UK nationals. Soup kitchens on the Strand, Embankment are targeted for recruitment, then victims are taken to Bedford, Birmingham, Luton.

Philippa Roberts: Seeing the same picture in Bradford, Birmingham, Liverpool – homeless people are being preyed on. There is a need for targeted training in, e.g. soup kitchens, so people can spot the signs.

Diane Payne, the Salvation Army: TSE have been working with GLA, homelessness regional offices. Can transfer information between networks.

Dorcas Erskine: Poppy opened a shelter 2 years ago specially for trafficked British nationals, as they have a different profile and different needs. Very often they are drug and alcohol dependent. Just wanted to access services, but didn’t want NRM referral. Local authorities don’t know how to deal with such cases, don’t recognise them as trafficking.

Jeremy Capey, ACPO: Police are discussing links to homelessness etc. ACPO is recognising cross over of portfolios. Partnerships – looking to foster local, regional, national, international.

David Camp, Stronger Together:  question over size of business reporting under the Supply Chain clause – secondary legislation on how it will be carried out – any news?

Baroness Hamwee: No news, but might get statement in next couple of weeks.

Robbie Kent:  The intention is to put it in secondary legislation regulations on how the reporting will be done and size of business, but Government is currently considering a public consultation. We are the first country to have such legislation, so no previous example to follow. Secondary legislation is more flexible. Public consultation will address size of business, amongst other things.

David Camp: Offered for others to join up to discuss in details supply chain clause and what else needs to be done.

David Heathcoat-Amory, HTF Trustee: Policies regarding freedom of movement need to be looked at. Can any prevention strategies be included, specifically targeting traffickers, i.e. tracking people with malicious intent? Should the anti-trafficking sector participate in this discussion, as debate will take place anyway in this General Election year.

EBS: Suggested that groups of NGOs should come up with points to talk to Parties re manifestos.

Chloe Setter:  Operation NEXUS – sharing information internationally included requirement to report crime internationally. But only includes ‘high level’ crime, and no central European criminal records system. Links need to be strengthened with Europol. Should traffickers be sent back to home countries to be convicted? There was a successful police operation disrupting a trafficking ring that was bringing victims by bus to Victoria coach station. However, there is no ongoing operation similar to that.

Need to improve border security, but cannot legislate to keep ‘people out’.

Jeremy Capey: Operation NEXUS – multi-agency approach brought in immigration and enforcement. Fast tracking information sharing. In house fast track prosecutions, or repatriate to own countries where wanted for prosecution. Coach transport etc – particularly with migrant workers. More checks are being done.

Martin French, Director of UKHTC: NRM report for 2014 about scale of trafficking shows 34% increase in numbers of referred potential victims. However want to go beyond the NRM – there will be a letter/request for information sent to NGOs through the HTF’s contacts. Need to increase knowledge and have a better view.

Tatiana Jardan: Good news – life beyond the Bill exists. Some questions have been answered, some stay unanswered. Forum and over 90 members great opportunity to keep discussing these issues, and remain a united voice to continue to put pressure on government and work with them.

EBS: Summary and thanks. HTF can provide bridge between civil society and government and APPG – so please use us!

MEETING ENDS