ATHUB: our new online resource for professional working with victims of trafficking

ATHUB is our new online information resource for professionals working with victims of trafficking. Funded by The Legal Education Foundation, the site contains a wealth of information for support providers and legal practitioners on advising and representing victims of trafficking.

The site includes the following:

  • An introduction to working with victims of trafficking, including how to identify victims, an overview of the NRM and best practice in working with victims
  • The Immigration process, making an asylum claim, legal aid, residence permits and the special conditions around domestic workers
  • Securing accommodation and support for your client, including working with homeless clients and asylum seekers
  • Making a compensation claim against a trafficker, against the state and from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
  • Working with children and young people who have been trafficked including advice on age disputes, common types of exploitation and special provisions for child victims.

The site will be regularly updated to reflect changes in the law and practice.

Reports and other useful resources

Human Trafficking Foundation: An independent inquiry into the situation of separated and unaccompanied minors July 2017

The report details the ways in which unaccompanied migrant children are let down at present by the UK authorities. It finds that UK institutional failures often force children to turn to traffickers:

'Children who lose all faith in authorities…are far less resilient and far more vulnerable to being groomed into exploitation.' (p23)

The report criticises the UK’s failure to welcome more child migrants under the so-called Dubs scheme. It finds that, contrary to government briefing, increasing the number of children brought into the UK would not act as a ‘pull factor’ for traffickers. In fact, 

‘on the contrary, the Inquiry concluded that…the Government’s own administration of the Dubs scheme has created such a lack of trust in official pathways to safety that it feeds directly into the hands of traffickers. Children…turn to ever more risky methods of getting to the UK.’ (p9)

The report also highlights the need for the government to develop a specific strategy for Vietnamese child migrants, who are ‘more likely to be lost to official view and support than children of any other nationality.’ (p49)

The report’s full recommendations can be found on pages 49-59 of the full report, which can be found here.

Lighting the Way: Report from ECPAT on trafficked children June 2017

This report recommends that the government create a national process for identifying and recording missing children at elevated risk of being trafficked. It also highlights the need for anti-trafficking work to be integrated within the wider child protection system.

The key evidential findings in the report are as follows:

  • Children are more likely to go missing when in B&B accommodation or hostels.
  • Specialist legal services on behalf of trafficked children are available, but tend to be concentrated in Northern Ireland, Scotland, London and Manchester.
  • Children who are not applying for asylum and who have yet to receive a decision that there are reasonable grounds to suspect they have been trafficked are no longer eligible for legal aid. This system leaves many children in a very vulnerable position.
  • Medical examinations can estimate the maturity but not the chronological age of a child.

Read the full report here. The executive summary can be found on pages 14-15. ATLEU solicitor Kalvir Kaur, contributed to the report.

Coram Children’s Legal Centre: Securing permanent status for children and young people June 2017

This guide is a useful resource for those seeking to understand how currently undocumented children and young people can regularise their immigration status.

There is a section of the guide (pages 15-16) that explains how child victims of human trafficking can secure discretionary leave to remain in the UK.

See the full report here.

Scottish Government Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy May 2017

This strategy document forms part of the Scottish government’s approach to tackling human trafficking under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015. It details the actions the Scottish government plans to take, including supporting victims to safety and recovery; disrupting the activities of perpetrators; and addressing the conditions that enable trafficking to occur.

The document also has useful data regarding victims of trafficking in Scotland. In 2016, there were 150 potential victims of trafficking. 80% of male victims were exploited for their labour, and 48% of female victims were sexually exploited.

See the full document here.

National Referral Mechanism statistics 2016 April 2017

This comprehensive document contains all the statistics for individuals processed through the National Referral Mechanism for victims of human trafficking during 2016. The report contains copious information, but some of the most notable changes from 2015 are as follows:

  • There were a far larger percentage of cases ‘pending decision’ in 2016 than in 2015. Of the 2016 cases, over 55% were still pending a final outcome in January 2017. This compares with 25% of the 2015 cases pending in January 2016. Many victims are therefore waiting for a conclusive grounds decision for far longer than the 45-day target. 
  • There has been a 17% increase in the number of potential victims identified in 2016 as compared with 2015.
  • There has been a 30% increase in the number of potential child victims identified in 2016 as compared with 2015.
  • There has been a 70% increase in the number of potential British victims identified in 2016 as compared with 2015. British is now the third most common nationality for potential victims of trafficking, behind Albanian and Vietnamese.
  • The number of potential victims from China has more than doubled on 2015.

See the full report here.

House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee: Victims of modern slavery report April 2017

This report focusses on the support offered to victims of modern slavery, once recognised as such in the UK. It recommends that:

  • The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) start recording the number of victims who are referred more than once, in order to measure the scale of re-trafficking in the UK
  • All confirmed victims of modern slavery be given at least one year’s leave to remain, with the same recourse to benefits and services as asylum seekers are granted, including housing
  • DWP staff in jobcentres are trained to deal with victims of human trafficking
  • The DWP introduce benefit concessions for victims of human trafficking, as they do for victims of domestic violence, such as exempting them from job seeking conditions for up to 13 weeks
  • Victims who have received a positive conclusive grounds decision be given a personal care plan for 12 months, so that they avoid becoming destitute and/or re-trafficked after being ejected from their safe-house.

ATLEU contributed written evidence to the committee, which can be found here. The full report can be found here.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime: Evidential Issues in Trafficking in Persons Cases
March 2017

This specialist report seeks to aid legal practitioners seeking to build a criminal case against a trafficker, where the testimony of the victim is normally central. The report notes that these cases ‘present particularly complex evidential issues, many of which hinge upon the particular nature of this covert crime and the behaviour of victims, whose testimony is often the central piece of evidence.’ (p vii).

The report considers 135 cases from 31 jurisdictions around the world, and analyses how evidence can be best used by those seeking to build a prosecution case. It notes that apparent evidential weaknesses in trafficking cases can in fact be used as strengths:

‘For example, the fact that a victim does not flee when given an opportunity to do so, seems, at first glance, to be a weakness in the case, but may in fact be a strength in that it may point to the high level of control exerted by the trafficker; inconsistencies in a victim’s testimony may seem such as a weakness in the case, but may actually be a strength, in establishing that the victim has not been coached, but is making a genuine statement; a threat that may seem, on the face of it, to be irrational and too fantastic to believe, may be a particularly menacing threat in the cultural context and subjective world of the victim.’ (p vii).

The report will be of particular assistance to those seeking to build criminal or civil cases that hinge on the testimony of victims of human trafficking. It can be found in full here.

Human Trafficking Foundation Report: Supporting Adult Survivors of Slavery March 2017

This report finds that the support currently provided to survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery is not meeting their needs. 

Among the report's recommendations is that a positive conclusive grounds decision must carry status. It ought to entail both the issuance of a 12-month residence permit and a cross-agency recognition of priority need, for instance with regard to housing. 

The report finds that: 

‘government-funded support ends abruptly, too early and there is little information on what happens to survivors in the longer term. The current situation leaves survivors with little realistic opportunity to rebuild their lives, with some ending up destitute, vulnerable to further harm or even being re-exploited.’ 

Read the full report here.

Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights: Human Rights and Business 2017 – Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability March 2017

This broad report into how businesses uphold human rights standards has a section dedicated to human trafficking. The report highlights the shortcomings of the Modern Slavery Act 2015’s reporting requirements and the under-funding of the Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

The committee found that there was a ‘suspicious uniformity between many of the statements’ created by businesses to comply with their reporting obligations under the Act. This means that ‘many statements do not reveal much, if anything, about the practical steps being taken to tackle modern slavery’.

The committee recommended tougher reporting requirements; the creation of a centralised list of companies required to report; and the inclusion of public bodies in the transparency in supply chains requirements of the Act.
See the full report here; the Modern Slavery Act findings can be found on pages 37-48.

Tricked and Trapped: Human Trafficking in the Middle East, International Labour Organisation (ILO) April 2013

A report of a regional research project by the ILO, which concludes that  human trafficking to the Middle East is linked to ineffective labour migration governance, which leaves migrant workers particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Its main findings on trafficking processes for migrant domestic workers are on pages 33-34. 

The isolation of domestic workers in private homes, which are not inspected by labour inspectors or social workers, and their very limited ability to move outside the household, heighten their vulnerability to exploitation. Employers justify the retention of passports and confinement in the home on the basis of the kafala system, which gives them legal responsibility for the residency and employment of their domestic workers. Their sense of entitlement over the worker is heightened by the significant cash outlay they have made to recruit him or her from another country (p 34). 

The report recommends reform of the kafala system, and the right to leave employers. 

Download and read the report here .

Beyond Borders: Human Trafficking from Nigeria to the UK, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) January 2013

The report highlights the particular features of trafficking from Nigeria to the UK: 'Nigeria has been named by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as one of the top eight countries of origin for human trafficking globally... Unlike trafficking from Nigeria to other European countries such as Italy or the Netherlands, sexual exploitation does not appear to be the dominant form of exploitation in the UK; instead, domestic servitude is more common. In such cases, victims are trafficked to undertake household duties such as cleaning, childcare and cooking. Working hours are long, with no formal breaks and low or no pay. As well as exploitative, victims’ experiences can be highly physically and psychologically abusive. Trafficking of this kind is hidden, often taking place in private households rather than in on-street premises or known massage parlours.' (p 4)

The report argues for a change of focus in UK policy: 'Rather than seeing trafficking as an issue primarily of migration, it needs to be understood as a wider issue of exploitation. Rather than perceiving it as an issue dominated by organised criminal networks, it must be understood as a crime often perpetrated by people known to or, in many cases, related to the victims who may otherwise live their lives in an outwardly respectable way.' (p 4).

Download and read the report here.  

ATLEU's Submissions to the Low Pay Commission in relation to the “family worker exemption” (National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 (regulation 2(2))

ATLEU has written to the Low Pay Commission in relation to the current approach taken by courts and tribunals to the exemption from the National Minimum Wage contained in regulation 2(2) of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999.  

One of the consequences of Regulation 2(2) is that it has facilitated and shrouded domestic servitude. This is an undesirable position and must be addressed. ATLEU seeks a review of the exemption to ensure the protection of this vulnerable group of workers. 

As the law is currently drafted it is uncertain and hard for employers and employees to negotiate. It is also subject to challenge on the grounds that it offends against European sex discrimination law; the great majority of domestic workers are women so the exemption has a disproportionate adverse impact on one gender. 

ATLEU's position is that Regulation 2(2) is an exemption that should be construed narrowly and therefore the exception rather than the rule. Guidance on the exemption should be explicit in stating this and advise potential employers to seek advice. ATLEU seeks to restrict the application of Regulation 2(2) to those who are actually members of the employers’ family or, if the intention is to exclude those who are genuinely defined as au pairs then, Regulation 2(2) should be amended to express this and reflect the definition provided by the British Au-pairs Agencies Association.

Download and read ATLEU's report here

Access to justice and compensation for trafficked victims play a crucial role in victims' recovery.

Anti-Slavery International's report 'Opportunities and Obstacles: Ensuring access to compensation for trafficked persons in the UK' highlights the importance of assisting victims to realise their legal rights. 

Access to justice for trafficked persons is crucial to effectively combating trafficking. Next to the importance of having the sense of justice and vital acknowledgement of the violations that happened, compensation also plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of trafficked persons…The experience of support organisations shows that a financially independent and secure former victim, who has a positive and empowering experience with the justice system (be it criminal or other part of the system), is more likely to achieve recovery or to be close to recovery. (page 3)

Read the report here