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Two new reports find victims of trafficking in the UK are not being adequately supported and face detention


British Red Cross report on lack of victim support, Labour Exploitation Advisory Group report on detention of victims

Date of Publication:
30 July 2019

Two new reports find victims of trafficking in the UK are not being adequately supported and face detention

30 July 2019

With today being the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, two new reports have been released looking at the treatment of trafficking victims in the UK.

The British Red Cross, together with Ashiana and Hestia, today published a report which finds that recognised survivors of trafficking are facing homelessness, psychological trauma and re-trafficking due to a lack of Home Office support.

You can download the 76-page report here.

According to the report, the Home Office policy of giving recognised survivors of trafficking only 45 days of accommodation and financial support leaves them facing poverty and struggling to cope with complex mental health needs.

Naomi Phillips, director of policy and advocacy at British Red Cross said: "The British Red Cross sees many people who are left struggling to access help just weeks after they have been recognised as a survivor of trafficking by the UK Government.

"The situation is particularly bad for people without a secure immigration status and too often we see these people at risk of falling back into exploitation because they are unable to find somewhere to live or a way to feed themselves."

The report urges the Government to give at least 12 months of specialist support to prevent victims of trafficking falling back into the hands of traffickers. In addition, the report says survivors should be protected and given security through the grant of immigration status of at least 30 months.

Rachel Mullan-Feroze, service manager at Ashiana, explained: "This report evidences the need for a flexible response to trafficking and modern slavery which takes into account individual needs and circumstances. It also highlights how immigration status underpins the ability for a survivor to resettle safely - without which, many survivors are at real risk of re-victimisation. Ashiana urge the government to reconsider their stance on granting leave to remain for confirmed victims of trafficking."

Yesterday, the Labour Exploitation Advisory Group (LEAG) released a report exploring why and how victims of trafficking are being detained under immigration powers in the UK.

The 52-page report can be downloaded here.

LEAG is a group of organisations working with potential and actual victims of trafficking for labour exploitation. It was established in 2015 by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX).

In its executive summary, the report states: "LEAG members have identified numerous examples of detained victims of human trafficking, including victims who have been detained after receiving positive reasonable grounds decisions under the UK's framework for identifying and supporting victims ('the National Referral Mechanism'). This report finds that the Home Office is failing to protect victims of human trafficking from further harm prior to and while in immigration detention. LEAG believes that these failings demonstrate that the UK is in breach of various international responsibilities, including the responsibility to support victims in their physical, psychological and social recovery under Article 12 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. LEAG shares the view that victims of human trafficking are being treated first as immigration offenders and secondly as victims, which is leading to long-term and severe consequences to their health and the outcomes of their victim status under the National Referral Mechanism."

In an opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters Foundation today, Leticia Ishibashi of FLEX said government authorities are failing to identify, refer and support potential victims of trafficking, leading to retraumatisation, lack of support and, in some cases, even pushing them back into exploitation.

Ishibashi says the report identifies 143 cases where government agencies responsible for identifying victims of trafficking failed to do so, leading victims to spend long periods of time in immigration detention without receiving the assistance they are entitled to.

FLEX also announced yesterday that 10 organisations working with, or for, victims of human trafficking have formed a new Taskforce on Victims of Human Trafficking in Immigration Detention.

The Taskforce will seek an end to the detention of victims of human trafficking under immigration powers and will advocate for vital changes to government policy and practice regarding this issue.