Now, under stealth changes introduced by Government, even those with entitlements to trafficking support will instead remain in prison-like detention settings unless they can ‘prove’ with additional evidence that detention will cause them ‘future harm’.
Detention will always cause harm to those who experience it, but survivors of slavery are at greater risk of longer-term psychological and physical illness as they are experiencing a second deprivation of liberty after being held in restrictive and abusive conditions by traffickers. Survivors should be able to access early intervention and support, not longer waits and more fights to access the entitlements they need.
Since 2019 alone, 2,914 people entitled to trafficking support were instead held behind bars due to their immigration status – even though the Government refuses to introduce a citizenship pathway for survivors. Now, the barriers to release – even for those recognised by the Home Office – will be even higher.
In response to concerns raised by ourselves and multiple charities, the Home Office admits that an increase in detained trafficking victims “may be an effect” of the new policy.
After Exploitation is joined by Anti Slavery International, Bail for Immigration Detainees, Focus on Labour Exploitation, Freedom From Torture, Medical Justice and The Helen Bamber Foundation in submitting evidence to a Committee raising concerns on the changes. We explained:
“The very fact that [someone] has been trafficked often leads to them having a negative immigration history. For example, being under the control of a trafficker may result in the person entering the country unlawfully, being unable to claim asylum as soon as they arrive.
“[Under the changes] Survivors will now need to provide additional professional evidence demonstrating not only that they are an adult at risk, but that detention is likely to cause them harm.”
potential victims, were detained in prison-like settings, since 2019.
‘suspected victims’ identified but not referred for support last year
times, MPs have been denied slavery data we later proved to be held
dedicated immigration pathways are available to recognised survivors
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