A new report by After Exploitation highlights the “routine” denial and supression of modern slavery data by Government.
Hidden Futures: How Data Denial Threatens the Fight Against Slavery highlights how repeated refusals to share data on the UK’s slavery response has allowed the detention and deportation of trafficking victims to continue without political challenge.
Drawing on a catalogue of more than 100 Freedom of Information requests, After Exploitation details how Government has detained at least 373 confirmed and 2,580 potential trafficking victims in a three year period, whilst simultaneously denying evidence. MPs were refused data on the detention of trafficking victims in nine separate Parliamentary Questions, which After Exploitation was later able to obtain via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
The report evidences that the immigration statuses granted and denied to trafficking victims is also held centrally, but has been denied to MPs in all three major political parties.
Whilst Hidden Futures highlights the importance of FOI requests in securing modern slavery data, After Exploitation outlines significant challenges to securing responses, with one FOI request on slavery referrals not recieved until nine months after the statutory deadline. The report calls for standards, quality-assured Government reporting on modern slavery outcomes.
Director of After Exploitation, Maya Esslemont, said:
It is unacceptable that the Government holds such vital information on the deportation, detention, and support outcomes of modern slavery survivors but refuses to publish this data. Not only would this basic transparency allow survivors to be counted, it would help researchers, MPs, charities and journalists to improve their understanding of the realities facing trafficked people. Withholding this information, to members of the public and politicians, is setting the movement back by years.
After Exploitation is calling for the Government to release quarterly or annual data on:
- Detention of potential and recognised trafficking victims
- Deportation and voluntary return of potential and recognised trafficking victims
- Immigration outcomes of survivors
- Support provided or denied to potential and recognised trafficking victims (including safehouse referrals and subsistence)