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Launch of Updated Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards

The Human Trafficking Foundation is delighted to publish the updated Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards on Monday 15th October, to be launched at the Anti-Slavery Day Awards at Speaker’s House.

The UK government has been clear in its commitment to tackle modern slavery, with the Prime Minister, Theresa May, describing it as ‘the great human rights issue of our time’.

Estimated numbers of people in living in slavery in the UK range from 13,000 (Home Office) to 136,000 (Global Slavery Index).

Inevitably, as survivors of horrific and traumatic abuse, the recovery of people who escape slavery and come forward is likely to depend on their being able to receive professional specialist support, which responds to their individual needs. Standards for this support is set out in the Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards (2018), compiled and published by the Human Trafficking Foundation. The standards draw on the expertise of 32 organisations from across the anti- slavery sector including care providers, law enforcement, lawyers and medical experts.

In October 2017, government announced that it will adopt the Human Trafficking Foundation’s Trafficking Survivor Care Standards and include them in future NRM victim care contracts. The then Minister responsible, Sarah Newton MP explained during a backbench debate on the Modern Slavery Act:

“If a potential victim opts to enter the NRM, we must ensure that the care they receive is consistent and meets minimum standards, regardless of where in the country they are being cared for. That is why the Government will adopt the Human Trafficking Foundation’s trafficking survivor care standards as a minimum standard for victim support”.

In the UK, government funded care to survivors of trafficking is provided through the National Referral Mechanism for identifying victims of trafficking (NRM). In addition to ensuring good standards of care to survivors which respond to individual needs to facilitate recovery the standards also aim to support the professionals who work with survivors, ensuring that best practice is shared.

When someone escapes from slavery or trafficking their recovery and long term freedom is not guaranteed. The standard of support, care, information and legal which survivors receive through the NRM is vital to ensure victims of this crime are able to move on, rebuild their lives and access justice.

Vernon Coaker MP, Co-Chair APPG on Modern Slavery and Trafficking said:

“I welcome government’s commitment to adopt the Human Trafficking Foundation’s Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care standards into the next Victim Care Contract. We need to know that government funded services meet a decent level of care and that victims in the service are supported and enabled to access their entitlements under the Council of Europe Convention for Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, helping them to begin to access justice and to move on with their lives. These standards, updated in collaboration with experts from across the anti- trafficking sectors, if implemented, will ensure that the UK is a leader in victim care.”

Minh Dang, Survivor Alliance said:

‘To state that the Care Standards are important is an understatement. For too long, well-intentioned, but untrained individuals have entered into professional relationships with survivors of human trafficking and slavery without regard to their potential negative impact on human lives. The Care Standards bring our field into alignment with other professional fields where A Code of Conduct is the norm.’

Victoria Marks, Director and Solicitor, Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit said:

“ATLEU welcome the Government's adoption of these minimum standards for the care of survivors of trafficking and modern slavery. Legal advice is a critical part of the support that survivors need in order to recover from their experiences and to re-build their lives. Currently many victims are not accessing advice, leaving them vulnerable to further abuse and exploitation. These standards will play an important part in working to ensure that victims receive legal advice when they need it most.”

Rachel Witkin, Head of Counter-Trafficking, Helen Bamber Foundation said:

“This accessible little book shares a wealth of wisdom for all professionals, from UK specialists across the UK.  

The Care Standards are based upon principles of respect and understanding for people who too often face further serious harm and hardship after suffering this terrible crime, due to lack of identification, pro-active assistance and support.  

Congratulations to the Human Trafficking Foundation for getting this done, and the goodwill of the many contributors involved.  It is vital that uniform standards of care are now placed on a statutory footing to ensure the safety and sustained recovery for survivors of trafficking and slavery.” 

Phil Brewer, Detective Superintendent, Metropolitan Police, Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit said:

“Our ability to successfully prosecute modern slavery offenders is, without doubt, influenced by the quality of care and support a survivor receives. With all partners working to one Survivor Care Standard, we can ensure an individual receives a consistent and appropriate level of care. This builds the trust and belief that we can protect them from further harm. A survivor who has that trust is more likely to support a police investigation. This then gives us a far better chance of bringing offenders to justice and preventing further exploitation.”

Lara Bundock, CEO, The Snowdrop Project said:

"Without any standards of care in support systems for survivors of modern slavery, it has been a postcode lottery whether someone receives a good standard of care or support that is unsuitable. The care standards are a much needed document to inform both those who are already providing support and those planning to; what they need to consider in the best interests of the individual, the staff and any volunteers. The Human Trafficking Foundation have done a sterling job bringing together some of the most experienced minds in the field to bring this document into being. We look forward to seeing this document adopted as standard by the Home Office and care providers around the UK.  This is a step towards the UK becoming a leading country in the field of tackling modern slavery."

Read the Care Standards here