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Home Office concedes that 45-day limit for slavery victims is unlawful

Human Trafficking
28 June 2019
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Today it has emerged that the Government has conceded its 45-day policy of support for confirmed human trafficking victims is incompatible with the Trafficking Convention.

Under this policy, a person who is thought to be a victim of modern slavery receives a minimum of 45 days of support and assistance, while authorities review their case and decide if there is evidence that they are a victim of human trafficking or forced labour.

Once the Authorities have made up their mind, if the person is confirmed as a victim, they receive just 45 days more support, in what is called a ‘move on period’. This includes things like safe housing, advice and financial aid.

In April, two modern slavery victims sought a judicial review of the 45-day limit, arguing that it was illegal.

CARE has been campaigning for greater support for modern slavery victims, because the more support they receive, the higher the chances are that they will be able to rebuild their lives.

According to lawyers, the Home Office have now settled the case out of court and have accepted that the 45-day policy is incompatible with the Council of Europe Trafficking Convention and that the Convention actually requires support to be provided by reference to an individual’s needs, rather than by how long that person has been supported.

The Home Office has said it will develop a ‘sustainable needs-based system for supporting victims of trafficking’.

They have also said that in the meantime, they will publish an interim policy making clear that the current 45 day policy will no longer be applied and that support for victims will not be restricted by reference only to the date when a person is judged to be a genuine victim, or by how much support they have received already.

In a statement, lawyers representing the two victims said:

"We’re glad our clients’ legal challenge has forced the Home Secretary to withdraw his current policy & design a new needs based system consistent with legal obligations; there is no clinical nor legal basis to limit support to 45 days after an individual has formally been identified as a victim of trafficking.

"The Home Secretary now accepts that the law requires a needs-based system, not delimited by time alone. This is wonderful news as victims of trafficking & modern slavery will no longer be left at the mercy of the 45 day cliff edge drop in support."

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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the greatest violations of human dignity. We are fighting for effective laws that will help victims get better support.

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