statutory guidance for assistance to victims of modern slavery
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 included a provision for the government to publish guidance around the provision of assistance to victims in section 49. The Human Trafficking Foundation welcomes the Home Office’s efforts to create guidance, however has been open about its concerns around the development process. These concerns were published in a joint submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into Modern Slavery in January 2019.
In April 2019, as part of its role as Co-Chair to the Modern Slavery Strategy Implementation Group for Victim Support, the Human Trafficking Foundation supported NGO collaboration in providing feedback on a draft of the guidance including a joint letter explaining concerns which can be accessed here.
TRAFFICKING SURVIVOR CARE STANDARDS
The Trafficking Survivor Care Standards were developed in conjunction with experts in the anti trafficking sector with the aim of providing a blueprint for UK-wide service providers offering high quality care to adult survivors of modern slavery, including trafficking. The Standards provide a flexible framework with guiding principles and practical recommendations that support agencies can incorporate into their own existing policies and procedures. The ultimate goal is to promote an integrated, holistic and empowering approach that places the real needs of survivors at the centre of the process of sustained recovery, far beyond the ‘reflection period’.
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.
You can download the current Care Standards here.
The Standards make reference to the Helen Bamber Foundation’s Trauma Informed Code of Conduct which can be found here
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.”
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MODERN SLAVERY PROTOCOL FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Together with the London Working Group, the Foundation has produced several resources to help Local Authorities improve their response to human trafficking and modern slavery, in particular the identification and support offered to adult survivors. Find out more here
Places of safety
In October 2017, the Government announced reforms to the National Referral Mechanism, including creating places of safety for adult victims leaving situations of exploitation so that they can receive assistance and advice for 3 days before deciding whether to enter the NRM.
HTF has worked together with the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG), the British Red Cross, and the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU) to develop key principles in supporting survivors in these initial stages of their recovery from exploitation.
Read more here
LONG TERM SUPPORT POLICY
The National Referral Mechanism is the system by which potential victims of trafficking receive access to support and are identified as victims of trafficking. After being referred to the NRM, a Reasonable Grounds decision is made on the basis of ‘suspect but cannot prove’ that the individual is a victim. If this decision is positive, the individual is offered safe house accommodation, specialist support and legal aid for a guaranteed 45 days or until a Conclusive Grounds decision is made that he or she has been trafficked.
Crucially, once this Conclusive Grounds decision is made support is abruptly withdrawn: if negative, the individual has 2 days to leave the safe house; if positive, they have 2 weeks. This early and sudden removal of support unfortunately leaves victims vulnerable and damages their ability to rebuild their lives.
The Foundation has produced the following policy documents on long term support needs:
Life Beyond the Safe House (2015) urges the Government to review its approach to move-on support for survivors of modern slavery to help survivors recover from their experiences and integrate into society. This would help reduce the risk of re-trafficking. The report makes clear that a cohesive approach to victim support would mean survivors would be more likely to recover and regain control over their lives, and become more confident and independent, which in turn will allow them to become active members of society.
Day 46 (2016) followed the lives of survivors after they left the safe house. The research found that a quarter of victims disappeared after being rescued: of 73 potential interviewees, a few months after exiting the shelter, 18 were completely unaccounted for. Jess Phillips MP, Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery describes the report as a “damning indictment of our failure to protect victims of trafficking”
Long-Term Support Recommendations (March 2017): The Foundation has worked with partners throughout the anti-trafficking sector who support survivors of trafficking during and after the NRM process or who operate at a policy level to produce practical policy recommendations to support the reintegration and rehabilitation of adult survivors of trafficking. These were published in March 2017. One of the key recommendations is that identification as a victim of trafficking should automatically entitle the individual to remain in the UK for a minimum of 1 year, with recourse to public funds and access to further support.
Unaccompanied and Separated Minors Report (July 2017)
Nobody deserves to live this way!
Rt Hon Fiona Mactaggart and Baroness Butler-Sloss were alerted by Safe Passage to the serious risks of trafficking and exploitation facing children in parts of Europe who are feeling countries where they feel unsafe, when they were Co- Chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Trafficking and Modern Slavery (APPG). In the Spring of 2017 the APPG agreed to hold an inquiry into the risks facing these children. When the 2017 General Election was called, dissolving the APPG the former Co- Chairs agreed that the dangers facing these children were too great to expect them to wait. Instead they agreed that the Human Trafficking Foundation would sponsor the inquiry, allowing it to continue, Chaired by Fiona Mactaggart and Baroness Butler- Sloss as individuals, rather than for the APPG. The Human Trafficking Foundation Coordinated the inquiry.
The inquiry took place between April and June 2017. It found no evidence that providing a safe route for children to travel to the UK acted as a ‘pull factor’ or encouraged traffickers. Instead the evidence showed that leaving children without safe and legal options left them in limbo, stranded in dangerous and often violent situations. In many instances this resulted in children turning to smugglers, putting themselves at risk of dangerous journeys and of exploitation to pay the smugglers.
The overwhelming evidence of violence inflicted by the French police on children is one of the more shocking findings of this inquiry, whether it be the indiscriminate use of truncheons and tear gassing of children and their sleeping bags. Children are denied access to showers, shelter or anywhere to store their belongings.
Download the report here