Victory for The Sun as judge scraps 45-day limit on help for modern slavery victims

A HIGH court judge has today extended government support to victims of modern slavery in a major victory for The Sun’s Stamp Out Slavery campaign.

Slavery victims will now be able to claim support – including accommodation, weekly payments, counselling and medical care – beyond the paltry 45-day time limit set by the Home Office.

Our Stamp Out Slavery campaign, in conjunction with Co-op, has highlighted the plight of some of Britain's 136,000 slaves working in car washes and nail salons, farms and factories all over the UK.

We've been calling on the government to extend support for Britain's slaves beyond the current 45-day limit and backing Lord McColl's private members Bill demanding support be extended to a year.

In today's landmark ruling,  Mr Justice Julian Knowles suspended the 45-day cap on support and said it should be subject to a full judicial review by the end of June, which could see the controversial policy scrapped for good.

The ruling comes as part of a case brought by lawyers representing two anonymous victims of slavery whose support was about to come to an abrupt end, leaving them destitute and vulnerable to further exploitation.

One is a Vietnamese man trafficked to the UK in 2016 and forced to work on a cannabis farm. His captors tortured him, beating him over the head with sticks, and threatened to cut his throat if he fled.

The other is a 24 year-old Albanian woman who was held captive from August 2016 and over a period of seven months was raped repeatedly, even after her attackers got her pregnant. She now has a one-year-old daughter.

Mr Justice Julian Knowles  slammed the Home Office’s 45-day policy as ‘potentially unlawful’ at an earlier hearing.

When the 45-day support for slaves runs out, many end up homeless and vulnerable to being re-trafficked – it is estimated that up to 34 per cent of victims of modern slavery are re-trafficked.

Today's ruling was hailed as 'transformative' by Iain Duncan Smith, MP, who has backed the Sun's campaign.

“Having campaigned for a more humane approach myself, I congratulate The Sun of their strong support for this campaign, which will have a transformative effect on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said.

Our Stamp Out Slavery campaign has revealed the horrors endured by other former slaves, such as Amy and Martin.

Amy thought she was coming to the UK to work as a nanny but was instead tricked into domestic servitude and forced to clean for 20 hours a day and beaten by her cruel mistress.

And Martin was trafficked to the UK in his early 50s and forced into back-braking work picking flowers to be sold in supermarkets. He was forced to sleep in squalid conditions with his fellow slaves and his captors threatened to kill him if he escaped.

All confirmed slavery victims will now have their support continue beyond 45 days thanks to today's case and the judicial review could decide if any time limit should apply at all.

The Sun wants to Stamp out Slavery

Slavery takes a variety of forms, but most commonly forced labour, sexual exploitation, domestic work or forced criminal activity. 

The Home Office estimated that there are 13,000 people held in slavery in the UK, with the Global Slavery Index suggesting the figure could be as many as 136,000.

The UK recognised a staggering 5,145 victims from 116 countries in 2017, including adults who had been used for organ harvesting and children that were forced into sexual exploitation.

At present, trafficked victims have just 45 days support after being freed before they are expected to leave the UK and are deported by the Home Office.

During this short time, they are given accommodation, financial aid, medical treatment, counselling, a support worker, a translator and legal advice.

We want the government to:

Back Lord McColl's proposed bill, which suggests all victims of modern slavery should be given a year's support to recover.

Alongside that they should be given special support to help them, including housing benefits, financial help and other services.

Home Secretary Sajid David conceded in two court cases last year that the government does have a responsibility to continue supporting confirmed victims of slavery while they’re in the UK.

Ahmed Aydeed, public law director at law firm Duncan Lewis, which brought today’s case, told Sun Online: “We’re very pleased our clients and other victims of trafficking and modern slavery will continue getting the support they so desperately need.”

In response to today’s judgement, Lord McColl of Dulwich told Sun Online: “I’m really delighted the Court is looking into this and that permission has been given for a judicial review.

“All the evidence I’ve seen is that victims need more support than the current 45-day move- on period. I introduced my Bill to try to improve what is available, and I am pleased that it has is backed by so many victim support charities.

“Now the Government should back my Bill to guarantee victims across England and Wales a full 12 months of support.”

Paul Gerrard, Co-op's head of policy and campaigns, said: “For over two years the Co-op and the expert charities who support slavery survivors every day have been saying that providing just 45 days of support for victims of slavery to recover is unjust and immoral. The courts have now gone further and said it is potentially illegal which would mean the Government would have to change that 45 day support limit.”

HELP STAMP OUT SLAVERY

Want to help? Here are some of the possible warning signs to look for, according to the Modern Slavery Helpline:

  • Domestic slaves may be held in their employer's home and forced to carry out tasks such as childcare, cooking and cleaning
  • They may not be allowed to leave the house on their own, or they may be monitored
  • The person may work long working hours
  • They may not have access to their own belongings, such as a mobile phone or their own ID
  • The employer may be abusive, both physically and verbally
  • The person may not interact often with the family they are employed by
  • A domestic slave may be deprived of their own personal living space, food, water or medical care
  • They may wear poorer quality clothing compared to other family members

Suspicious? You can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, or fill in an online report at: www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/report

Tamara Barnett, project leader at the Human Trafficking Foundation, which provided evidence to the lawyers who have brought today's case: "We are incredibly excited by this judgement, which we feel effectively recognises that the present Government system of support is not fit for purpose – as it does not meet the needs of survivors.

"It is ridiculous that survivors are left in the bizarre situation of being at risk of homelessness within weeks of being formally recognised as having been trafficked and enslaved.”

A Home Office spokesperson told Sun Online: “The Government is committed to ensuring any victims of modern slavery get the support they need.

“It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”

 

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