United States calls on UK to improve support for victims of trafficking

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US Trafficking In Persons Report 2017 front cover

In its annual Trafficking in Persons Report the US State Department has recommended the UK Government take steps to improve the support available for victims.

The report recognised that “the government did not always ensure victim care following a 45-day reflection period, after which authorities in many cases deported foreign victims who were not assisting in an investigation and prosecution” and recommended the Government should:

  • increase funding for, and access to, specialised services for trafficking victims across all UK jurisdictions, regardless of their immigration status;
  • provide a trafficking-specific long-term alternative to deportation or repatriation for foreign victims;
  • consider extending the reflection and recovery period beyond 45 days for all service providers;
  • expand the independent child trafficking advocate programme nationally.

In making these recommendations (echoing those from 2016), the report highlights the difficulties faced by victims once the reflection and recovery period ends and stresses the need for victims to receive support for longer than the 45 days offered by the current system.

Following similar recommendations from the Work and Pensions Committee in April, and a new Bill on the issue introduced to Parliament this week, the Government is under increasing pressure to act.

Speaking about the issue in the House of Lords, the proposer of the new Bill Lord McColl of Dulwich said

“It is simply unacceptable that our authorities can send someone a letter confirming that we recognise that they have been trafficked, yet from that point on they may be homeless. They may not even be eligible for benefits and they may be told that they have no right to remain in the UK. We can, and must, do better.”

CARE has been calling on the Government to increase the reflection and recovery period and ensure victims have access to ongoing support afterwards and we will be supporting Lord McColl’s Bill as it goes through the House of Lords.  We warmly welcome the US report and hope that the UK Government will take action to address this issue.

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