The Government has recently issued a call for responses to their New Plan for Immigration within its 6-week consultation window.
Adavu has provided a response as we believe this proposed plan will directly, and negatively, affect many of our future clients; the vast majority of our clients are asylum seekers or have recently been granted Refugee status.
Chapter 4: Disrupting Criminal Networks and Reforming the Asylum System
- The proposal of relocating “inadmissible cases” back to a safe country does not recognise or protect the person from the well-trodden trafficking routes between countries deemed ‘safe’ (such as, for example, Italy and Albania); relocating victims to these ‘safe’ countries would significantly increase their risk of being re-exploited and/or re-trafficked.
- The 30-month “Temporary Protection Status” offers very limited support to asylum seekers, removing their rights to access public funds and family reunion, whilst under the continual threat of being deported. This would significantly increase the risk of asylum seekers being made homeless and being re-exploited and/or re-trafficked, in addition to impacting negatively on the mental and physical health of people who may have already experienced significant trauma.
Section 6: Supporting Victims of Modern Slavery
- What statistical, objective evidence is there for the “vexatious accounts of modern slavery” that the government says is used by “illegal migrants, including Foreign National Offenders (FNOs) and those who pose a national security risk to our country to enable them to avoid immigration detention and frustrate removal from our country”? What is the evidenced % of such accounts of those who seek to enter the NRM?
- Birmingham Methodist District’s Adavu Project has been tackling the issue of modern slavery in the West Midlands since 2011 and has supported during that time over 155 survivors with longer-term post-NRM casework support. Grounded in the specialist knowledge and experience of supporting adult survivors of Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking that the Adavu Project has gained over this time, it is our professional opinion that all of our clients are genuine victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. Working closely with the 100+ members of the West Midland Anti-Slavery Network over the past 10 years, we have similarly never come across any (Potential Victims of Trafficking) PVoTs abusing the NRM system for their own immigration/status gain.
- Adavu welcomes the commitment to identifying victims more quickly and to improving training for First Responders. We would ask that this training includes an understanding of trauma and its impact upon victims’ memory, recall and responses.
- Adavu believes that raising the Reasonable Grounds threshold will cause some genuine victims to be wrongly afforded a negative decision due to:
-The lack of time being available for First Responders to gather evidence and to understand the potential victim’s situation built up over a number of sessions of building trust and communication to enable them to disclose freely.
– The government’s proposals of “carefully considering the implications of contradictions and previous opportunities to have raised modern slavery matters” directly undermines the medically evidenced understanding that the impact of trauma can hinder immediate and coherent recall of events, dates, details etc… and the immediate disclosure – as acknowledged by the government in
the Statutory Guidance notes,
“it is important to remember that victims of modern slavery may have been through significant trauma, and that this may impact on the information they provide. Due to the trauma of modern slavery, there may be valid reasons why a potential victim’s account is inconsistent or lacks sufficient detail.”
- We are concerned that genuine victims of modern slavery and human trafficking who have a prison sentence of 12 months or more as a result of exploitation, will wrongly be refused NRM support if they do not disclose in time to engage a Section 45 defence under the Modern Slavery Act. For example, a 12 month sentence relating to drugs offences (e.g. drug smuggling) would prohibit victims who were coerced to carry out this crime. This aspect of forced criminality does not seem to be factored in and it is extremely concerning that under these conditions, one of Adavu’s recent clients would have refused support through no fault of her own.
- Adavu welcomes the proposal that “confirmed victims with long-term recovery needs linked to their modern slavery exploitation may be eligible for a grant of temporary leave to remain (subject to any public order exemption) to assist their recovery, building on our end-to-end needs-based approach to supporting victims”. However, we are concerned about the pre-requisite of, “long-term recovery needs linked to their modern slavery exploitation”; separating out the support needs arising purely from their exploitation from other support needs is complex and difficult and negates a trauma-informed understanding of victims with often-overlapping needs.
- Adavu welcomes the proposal for victims for “ready access to specific mental health support to help them recover from their experiences of exploitation”. For Adavu clients, speedy access to quality therapeutic support for their mental health is vital and affects almost all of our clients: most of our clients have either a diagnosis of complex/PTSD or exhibit clear signs of such. Our clients experience great difficulty at present in accessing such support, with their needs being too often assessed as too complex for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but not acute enough for secondary mental health support. The majority of our clients end up being referred to a local charity of counselling for which there is a 9-12 month waiting list.
- Adavu believes that using the deliberately provocative reference to “child rapists” in a paragraph relating to victims of modern slavery is wholly disingenuous as this emotive example creates false generalised associations between the two.
- Adavu feels it of utmost importance to avoid the conflation of people smuggling with human trafficking – the two are wholly different and must not be confused. The former involves willing participants paying for a service (albeit illegal), the latter involves victims who have been coerced or deceived.
Please do have a look at the invitation to this period of consultation and give your own response to add to the voice of Adavu and its clients.