Title Title
Keeping up with the cost of modern slavery New figures highlight the failings of action against modern slavery in the UK
Summary Summary
More victims are being identified than ever, what are the implications for support services?  More victims are being identified than ever, but a lack of support and legal aid means they risk "falling off a cliff-edge"
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
  <b>The UK government boasts “world-leading” anti-slavery legislation and has become increasingly effective at identifying victims, but critics and victim support workers say its own legislation, including the “hostile environment” policy, are undermining this work and increasing the chance of victims falling back into exploitation.</b>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">According to a Home Office </span><a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/729836/economic-and-social-costs-of-modern-slavery-horr100.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">report </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">released July 30, there has been “a consistent and sustained increase in the number of potential victims of modern slavery identified in the UK since 2009.”</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The government emphasises that its anti-slavery legislation, particularly the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, are among the best in the world, and it has invested in preventing trafficking from other countries to the UK.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">But several support groups WikiTribune spoke to said that safeguarding against vulnerable people falling back into trafficking has been undermined by uncertainty, and there appears insufficient political will to tackle a growing problem.</span>
  <h2>New figures highlight a system under strain</h2>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the Home Office, between 10,000 and 13,000 people annually are identified as victims of modern slavery in the UK, at a combined economic burden of up to £4.3 billion.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Home Office attributes the continued rise to a more active approach to tackling the problem as a whole, with more effective identification of victims key. This is </span><a href="https://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/Anti_Human_Trafficking_Latest_Report"><span style="font-weight: 400;">supported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by the Salvation Army, the biggest provider of victim support services. But the financial impact is no surprise to people working in this field, who say the rising cost is indicative of an ineffectual system that does little to address the causes of exploitation.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“We hear of individuals slipping back into exploitation to avoid destitution and even being re- identified through the NRM,” said Kate Roberts of the human Trafficking Foundation. “Of course identification as a victim alone does nothing to address the underlying vulnerabilities which contributed to someone being trafficked nor address the damage done by the trafficking.”</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Kalayaan, a small charity providing support for overseas domestic workers who are the subject of exploitation, warned the government in 2007 that failing to support victims increases the likelihood that they will be forced back into irregular work and exploitation.</span>
<strong>The number of people identified as victims of modern slavery in the UK is higher than ever, according to Home Office<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-economic-and-social-costs-of-modern-slavery"> figures released</a> last week. The rise has been attributed to more active and efficient identification of victims by law enforcement, but what effect is this having on victim support services?</strong> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The focus on the financial burden of modern slavery is only valuable as it is indicative of how counter-productive some of the government’s decisions have been. A support worker at Kalayaan, a small charity supporting migrant domestic workers who suffer abuse, told WikiTribune they have been highlighting the economic inefficiency of the government’s attitude towards victims for over ten years.</span>
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  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“Kalayaan's statistics show how removal of domestic workers rights through the 2012 immigration rules resulted in an increase in reported exploitation and abuse,” said Roberts. “This high cost of domestic servitude supports the already compelling moral arguments for reinstating rights so workers are less likely to be exploited in the first place.”</span>
  <h2>Slipping through the cracks</h2>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">This uncertainty is making it increasingly difficult for support workers to make the case to victims to accept state-sponsored help in the form of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">On the contrary, victims of human trafficking are often scared of gaining state help, for fear of being punished for being in the country illegally, says Phillipa Roberts, of Hope For Justice.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Several people working with victims told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">the government does not keep track of those men and women who have been processed, meaning they risk losing their immigration status and being deported, or falling into conditions that leave them vulnerable to exploitation again.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The government’s treatment of victims of trafficking has been challenged several times in recent years, and in February the High Court</span><a href="https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2018/98.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> found that</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> its legislation on “leave to remain” for victims is incompatible with a European anti-trafficking convention.</span>
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<span style="font-weight: 400;"> The government says it is investing in addressing the root causes in the countries from which victims are most often trafficked, but cuts to legal aid and a lack of oversight mean that being identified means little for victims.</span>  
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<span style="font-weight: 400;">Key figures to reach out to in government and opposition:</span>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Victoria Atkins (MP and Home Office Minister)</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vernon Coaker MP (has asked multiple parliamentary questions on modern slavery in recent months)</span></li>  
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Groups working in this field:</span>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Focus on Labour Exploitation</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Human Trafficking Foundation</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sent to Sophie Hayes Foundation</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jericho Foundation</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Black Country Women’s Aid</span></li>  
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Part of this issue, says Phillipa Roberts, is that the rise in victims has coincided with broad cuts to legal aid. Vitcims of trafficking do not have immigration status, and once they escape their exploitation they are at the mercy of an immigration system that has been designed to be “hostile.”</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“The key point is if victims don’t have that clear entitlement in law many are slipping through the system,” said Phillipa Roberts. “Our experience is that in terms of this client base every system is fractured and not working to the benefit of these victims.”</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“You can have situations where a victim ha left the system, they’ve got a job, but at that point they might start dealing with mental health issues. Lose their jobs, lose their housing and fall off a cliff drop,” she said.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Cuts to legal aid, and the resulting lack of advice for victims, has coincided with a sharp fall in the number of successful application to enter the NRM, according to figures </span><a href="http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2017-nrm-statistics/884-nrm-annual-report-2017/file"><span style="font-weight: 400;">released</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by the national Crime Agency. In 2017, the ratio of successful “conclusive grounds” decisions to applicants was 13 percent, as opposed to 37 percent in 2015, and 48 percent in 2013.</span>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Adavu Project</span></li> <h2>A strategy demanding political will</h2>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hestia</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Helen Bamber Foundation</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hope for Justice</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Unseen</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Anti Slavery International</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Snowdrop Project</span></li>  
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Salvation Army</span></li>  
<li>Alliance HR</li>  
<span style="font-weight: 400;">[contribute-c2a text="Know a fact to enhance this story? You can edit it" buttons="edit"]</span>  
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">A Conservative member of parliament’s upper chamber, Lord McColl, has </span><a href="https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/modernslaveryvictimsupport.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">proposed a bill</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that would ensure victims are provided with a year-long residence permit and support from caseworkers.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">McColl’s bill is waiting for a second-reading in parliament, but it is unlikely to get a chance for this stage of the process unless it is endorsed by the government.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The charities WikiTribune spoke to were unconvinced the bill will gain the support it needs, pointing out that, despite the government’s repeated statements that modern slavery is a priority, the last year at least has been marked by inaction.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">After the High Court found, in February, that UK legislation did not meet the standards set out in the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, the legislation was suspended, but has not been updated, with “interim” guidelines in place since. Support workers and identified victims have also been left in limbo by uncertainty over when reforms to NRM, proposed last December, will take effect and what this will entail, other than a cut to subsistence payments. </span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The committee that oversees such legislaton, the Modern Slavery Strategy and Implementation Group, is supposed to meet quarterly, but has not convened since October 2017, while the position of Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has sat empty since the incumbent, stepped down </span><a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/modern-slavery-uk-commissioner-resigns-interference-kevin-hyland-government-a8356601.html"><span style="font-weight: 400;">due to uncertainty</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> over his role.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The “hostile environment” policy, spearheaded by Prime Minister Theresa May when she was Home Secretary in an effort to discourage illegal immigration, has been blamed by several politicians and charities for creating uncertainty.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey has </span><a href="https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/theresa-may-modern-slavery_uk_5b5eeb47e4b0b15aba9adaf6"><span style="font-weight: 400;">written </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">that these policies, including measures making it harder for undocumented migrants to access employment and public services “</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">make it harder for victims to come forward, whether to report crimes or seek medical help.”</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The charity Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX)</span><a href="http://www.labourexploitation.org/news/hostile-environment-undermines-uk-government%E2%80%99s-modern-slavery-agenda"><span style="font-weight: 400;"> said earlier this year </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">that fear of being detained in immigration detention center, or being deported to the place from which they were trafficked and abused, is making it harder for victims to escape abuse.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Home Office has become increasingly effective at identifying victims, and the number of people entering the NRM continues to rise. But lack of follow-through means that the cost and numbers could keep going up.</span>
  <span style="font-weight: 400;">“[Identification] should mean something,” said Phillipa Roberts. “Support from NRM into local authority assistance and care.”</span>
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Crime, Current Affairs, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Law, United Kingdom, Human Rights Crime, Current Affairs, Diplomacy, Human Rights, Law, United Kingdom, Human Rights
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Home Office, Human trafficking, modern slavery  FLEX, Home Office, Human trafficking, Human Trafficking Foundation, Kalayaaan, modern slavery
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