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Supporting Adult Survivors of Slavery to Facilitate Recovery and Reintegration and Prevent Re-Exploitation

Rachel Witkin
Anti Slavery Commissioner

The recommendations in this document highlight the minimum standards needed for a sustainable support system towards recovery for adult survivors of slavery put together by a coalition of anti- trafficking organisations.

The Helen Bamber Foundation contributed towards these recommendations alongside several other sector organisations working with survivors of human trafficking. 

Summary of Recommendations:

  1. There should be multiagency involvement in decision making. This should inform ongoing support. Having experts with a range of expertise involved in decision making would help ensure that decision making is non-discriminatory and is based on as rounded an understanding of a potential victim’s situation as is possible. Whilst multi-agency decision making will increase the accuracy of decision making, this will not be infallible, and as such there must be scope for the reconsideration of negative decisions. Although the Conclusive Decision as to whether someone has been trafficked or a victim of modern slavery will be made relatively quickly and before it is possible to have a full understanding of the individual’s support needs, the decision makers should use the knowledge they have built up while considering a case to highlight initial indicators of care needs and make initial referrals for care.
  2. A positive Conclusive Grounds (CG) decision must carry status. At present the Conclusive Grounds decision makes very little difference to a victim’s life in practice. Some victims receive the decision that they have been conclusively identified as trafficked or enslaved together with a letter telling them they have no leave to remain in the UK. This is in spite of the fact that at the point of identification someone who has been trafficked inevitably has ongoing personal circumstances including continuing support needs. The positive Conclusive Grounds decision should equate to a meaningful rehabilitation period provided through the issuing of a residence permit for a minimum time period of at least 12 months, as in line with current Home Office policy pertaining to discretionary leave. This decision must translate across statutory agencies allowing them to understand that someone with this decision has recourse to public funds and is to be considered priority need. Some victims will need a longer initial grant of leave. Victims who chose to leave the UK will not be prevented from doing so by this grant of a residence permit.
  3. Legal advice and representation must be offered early to all potential victims of trafficking or modern slavery. To ensure that adult victims are able to give meaningful consent to a referral into the National Referral Mechanism potential victims should be entitled to a minimum of 2 hours legally aided immigration advice prior to a referral as is the case with asylum applicants. In addition to this all survivors of trafficking must be given specialist legal advice, funded through legal aid, as early as possible following a positive Reasonable Grounds decision. This would support survivors to understand their rights, access justice and move on with their lives. A resulting increase in compensation claims and prosecutions would also provide a clear deterrent to traffickers.
  4. Individual case workers should be available to each trafficked or enslaved person to deliver casework support and individual advocacy following a positive Conclusive Grounds decision. On receiving a positive Conclusive Grounds decision each individual should be offered a case worker who Supporting adult survivors of slavery to facilitate recovery and reintegration and prevent Re- exploitation March 2017 3 also carries out individual advocacy on their behalf as well as co-ordinating the survivor’s care plan and access to services (see recommendation 1). The case worker will offer regular contact to the trafficked or enslaved person in order to facilitate their integration into mainstream services and long term welfare. This support should be available for a minimum of a year as standard and ideally continue beyond this depending on risk assessment, need and agreement with the survivor. After the file has been closed there should be a point of contact to which the survivor can return if they want to.
  5. Safe house accommodation move- on time tables should be more flexible with support diminishing gradually according to need. Potential victims need to have their stay guaranteed in a safe house at least until a Conclusive Grounds decision is made should they want this. Standard move on time frames should be extended to be brought in line with those for asylum seekers and there needs to be more flexibility for move on times beyond this to avoid survivors being put at risk as they leave first stage accommodation. Survivors should only be compelled to move on once it is clear that they have safe and appropriate accommodation to move on to. Case workers (see Recommendation 4) should facilitate a smooth transition to move on accommodation and offer support and advocacy during this process.

This document has been informed by the following agencies who work with survivors of trafficking during and after the NRM process or who operate at a policy level.

These Co- authors are: The Helen Bamber Foundation, the Human Trafficking Foundation, The Sophie Hayes Foundation, The Jericho Foundation, Black Country Women’s Aid, The Adavu Project, Hestia, Hope for Justice, Unseen, The Anti- Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG), Snowdrop Project, Housing for Women and Amari Project-Solace Women’s Aid. 

Click on the download link below to read the full recommendations.