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Modern Slavery in Family Proceedings

Legal Support for Human Trafficking Victims: Duncan Lewis Solicitors


What defines “trafficking”?


The United Nations, as per the Palermo Protocol defines trafficking as ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by improper means such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion, for an improper purpose including forced labour or sexual exploitation’. Victims of trafficking offences are understandably frightened, and so support of these victims is taken in incredibly high regard.




The Modern Slavery Act was enacted in 2015, which dealt with slavery related offences, such as intent to cause a trafficking offence, and it is worthy of note that Child Trafficking is considered a form of child abuse. It is a popular trend for such children, their parents or family members to be transported into the UK from other countries, or from within the UK itself.


The role of traffickers


Traffickers typically work in groups as part of an extended organisation of criminal activity, part of a smaller group or even work entirely on their own to recruit children and young people to be trafficked. This is an enormous risk recognised by family lawyers and local authorities alike.


What action can be taken by a local authority where there is suspicion of trafficking?


Local authorities are at liberty to involve themselves in family proceedings where trafficking issues have arisen. Commonly, the result can take the form of care proceedings, sometimes, with the local authority being granted interim care orders/supervision orders by the court in order to remove at-risk children from their primary care-givers if they can demonstrate a risk of/evidence of trafficking.


On occasion, circumstances can arise where there are concerns in relation to the conduct of a parent that has been trafficked. For example, a parent or care giver can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of the trauma that they have suffered from being trafficked. Consequently, this can impact on the care they are able to provide the child and the child may subsequently suffer harm in the form of neglect, emotional, psychological or physical harm, which could be another reason why the local authority issues care proceedings.


The role of the court in relation to proceedings involving trafficking


In a significant proportion of trafficking issues before the court, family law solicitors are involved. These legal professionals can seek to represent the interests of the trafficked individual or a parent, family member or care giver in supporting the individual to overcome their vulnerabilities and complex needs.


Other family law proceedings to assist victims of trafficking may include Prohibited Steps Orders or Wardship Orders, which restrict a potential trafficker’s ability to remove children and young people from the jurisdiction without consent of someone with parental responsibility. Alternatively, Child Arrangement Orders can establish an additional layer of protection for children where one parent could be attempting to traffic the child(ren). These family law proceedings put the needs of the trafficked individual first, and aim to prevent them from re-entering the system once they have left it.


How can Duncan Lewis Solicitors help?


Many cases of children and young people being trafficked share common themes of sexual exploitation and physical or emotional abuse. In fact, at least a quarter of all potential trafficking victims within the UK are under 18 years old. Among adults, themes can vary to forced marriage or surrogacy, organ harvesting and/or forced labour. They may be afraid, confused and isolated due to not being able to speak English and not knowing who they can trust. Due to these factors, family and child care solicitors at Duncan Lewis Solicitors  can offer expertise on multiple levels and aid the individual and/or the local authority in creating both short and long term solutions.


Those with trafficking related convictions may be prevented for establishing or maintaining a relationship with their children. Successful proceedings may result in the relationship being protected and could prevent a person being deported or removed from the country. Duncan Lewis solicitors can assist in making applications for child arrangement orders in this respect.  


Any live applications before the family court may result in a parent or care giver being able to enter or remain in the UK, to enable them to participate in such proceedings.


Duncan Lewis Solicitors have specialist solicitors who represent parents, family members and children in applications that are made in this niche and specialist area of law.  They also have solicitors, trainee and caseworkers that speak a range of languages to assist clients where required.


How can the case be funded?


Duncan Lewis solicitors are able to provide legal aid depending on the type of application made. Our specialist solicitors are more than happy to assist with undertaking assessments for legal aid.


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