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On Friday (8 December 2023), the Home Affairs Committee published its first  report following its inquiry into human trafficking. We are pleased that this report relies upon the front-line expertise of Wilsons which provides specialist legally-aided advice in the areas of public law & human rights, family and immigration to victims of trafficking. Wilsons provided evidence to the Committee both by way of written submissions drafted by Katie Schwarzman and Danny Bayraktarova and oral evidence provided by Danny Bayraktarova to the inquiry on 21 January 2023. 

The Committee’s findings are in line with Wilsons’ call for the Government to stop prioritising irregular migration issues over those of human trafficking and modern slavery, at the expense of victims and survivors.  

The report also echoes the concerns raised by various organisations, including Wilsons, that children are often treated by UK authorities as perpetrators of crime rather than victims, which is contrary to the ‘non-punishment’ principle established in international law. Wilsons’ evidence also specifically fed into the Committee’s recommendations that both statutory and non-statutory First Responder Organisations (specially authorised organisations which have a duty to identify and refer potential victims of trafficking into the National Referral Mechanism) be provided with nationwide training, and in particular on child victims of trafficking. 

Other Committee recommendations include that:

  • the government should take further action to prevent trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation in the UK and in corporate supply chains.
  • the government should ensure that survivors of trafficking and modern slavery continue to receive long-term support after they leave the National Referral Mechanism (the statutory framework by which victims of trafficking are identified) and recommendations are made in respect of an independent review of the Recovery Needs Assessment process and the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
  • unaccompanied asylum-seeking children should not be placed in hotel accommodation, where they are at risk of going missing and where appropriate support is not being provided to them.
  • every child who goes missing from homes or care should be considered as a potential victim of trafficking, even if they are subsequently found safe. 
  • the Home Office should continue to update the Committee with its progress of finding the children who went missing from hotels until the problem is resolved. 
  • the Modern Slavery Act 2015 should be strengthened by enforcing fines for non-compliance with the Transparency and Supply Chains provisions and addressing systemic gaps in various seasonable visa schemes. 

Wilsons currently represents numerous clients who have been exploited under the UK’s Seasonal Workers Visa Scheme and, as such, we welcome the recommendations made for increased transparency and accountability in this field. 

You can read a summary of our written evidence here.

If you have a family law case you need assistance with, please contact Mavis on 0202 8885 7986 to arrange for an appointment with a solicitor in the family team.

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