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Detention Action says UK continues to fail victims of trafficking

Date of Publication: 
27 November 2017

Campaign group finds Home Office conflict of interest prevents victims from receiving correct protection

Detention Action says UK continues to fail victims of trafficking

27 November 2017

The campaign group Detention Action last week released a briefing looking at how the UK continues to fail trafficking victims and hold them in immigration detention.

You can read the 15-page briefing here.

Detention Action says trafficked people in detention are being denied the full protection and support available under the Home Office's National Referral Mechanism (NRM) system for protecting victims of modern slavery and are instead being treated as irregular migrants to be removed.

According to the briefing, many victims of trafficking are detained for removal after being encountered during raids on brothels, nail bars and cannabis farms. Some are being wrongly convicted of criminal offences relating to their exploitation.

Detention Action identified three structural factors which it says contribute to the failure to identify, advise, support and eventually release victims of trafficking in detention.

Those factors are:

• The Home Office faces a conflict of interest between its responsibility to identify and protect victims of trafficking and its role in detaining and removing undocumented migrants.

• The risk of failure to identify victims of trafficking in detention is exacerbated by the lack of effective procedural safeguards. Neither the NRM nor the Home Office's Guidance on Adults at Risk in Immigration Detention provides a clear and effective safeguard to ensure that potential victims of trafficking are identified and released from detention.

• Indefinite detention causes harm and prevents effective access to the NRM by denying victims of trafficking a safe space where they can disclose their experiences and access independent advice.

In a separate post about the briefing (see here), Detention Action says the Home Office tends to view people who have been trafficked and lack formal immigration status through the lens of 'immigration control' and thus as problematic potential reoffenders and absconders rather than as victims in need of support.

Caterina Franchi, a solicitor at Wilson Solicitors LLP, also wrote about Detention Action's findings in a post on The Justice Gap here.

Franchi says it maybe time to take away the Home Office's monopoly of identifying and determining trafficking and modern slavery claims and introduce a panel system of Government officials as well as charity workers that could make the process fairer and more transparent.