Public law director Ahmed Aydeed, and caseworker Karen Staunton have both been quoted in the report ‘Opportunity Knocks: Improving Responses to Labour Exploitation with Secure Reporting’ by anti-trafficking NGO Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX).
Exploring the barriers that both documented and undocumented migrants face when reporting workplace abuse and exploitation to the police and labour inspectors in the UK, the report introduces a detailed framework to analyse how information about peoples’ immigration status becomes available to the Home Office following workers’ interaction with police and labour market enforcement agencies. It also builds on international examples to provide practical recommendations to government, police and labour market enforcement agencies on introducing and strengthening secure reporting systems to identify and prevent labour exploitation
Ahmed and Karen specifically address the issue of incidents where the police prioritise immigration enforcement over identification of modern slavery offences and assistance to victims. Karen notes;
“In almost all of these cases, the police completely ignored any trafficking indicators and focused on [the victims] instead as immigration absconders. In one instance, one of our clients self-reported to a police station saying that he had been trafficked to the UK and forced to work. He was not referred into the National Referral Mechanism…but was instead referred to Immigration Enforcement and shipped off to detention the next day.”
Ahmed further explains how such treatment of trafficking victims places them at risk of being re-trafficked.
“Instead of being identified and protected as victims, the vast majority of our clients are treated as immigration offenders. Ending up in prison or immigration detention serves only to reaffirm traffickers’ assertions that victims will not be believed by the system. This in turn makes victims less likely to disclose details of their trafficking, which could help the authorities to locate and prosecute their traffickers. This means that victims are less likely to receive the support and assistance that they need and to which they are entitled and puts them at significantly increased risk of being re-trafficked.”
Along with ten other organisations working with or for victims of human trafficking, our public law department is a part of the taskforce on ‘Victims of Human Trafficking in Immigration Detention.’ The taskforce’s aim is to ensure no victim of trafficking is detained under immigration powers.
Ahmed and Karen’s full contributions to the report can be read here. To read the report in its entirety visit the Focus on Labour Exploitation website.