I responded last week to a report that the Home Office has accepted that its 45-day limit on support for victims of trafficking is incompatible with international standards and should be based on an individual’s needs rather than a period of time – and followed it up in a Parliamentary debate yesterday. The report in The Independent followed a legal challenge by two trafficking victims in the High Court, after years of campaigners arguing that the 45-day policy on things like safe housing, financial support and counselling services fails victims.
As you can see in the article, I criticised the Home Office’s woefully inadequate support, despite their repeated statements on wishing to protect and support victims of human trafficking. I made the point yesterday that so many of the Home Office’s failures in these areas stems from the fact that there’s a conflict of interest between two distinct responsibilities – modern slavery and immigration enforcement – which sit together uncomfortably in the Home Office.
Research by the charity FLEX, which works in this area and of which I am a trustee, has shown that the conflict between the two responsibilities is undermining efforts to protect and support victims, sometimes even leading to them being re-trafficked. The success of any new ‘needs-based system’ that the Department establishes now will depend on the independence of the decision-making process.