A new report from HBF, and other NGOs Medical Justice, Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit and Focus on Labour Exploitation, highlights the government’s failures to address this problem – and that it has deliberately put in place a system in which more trafficking victims will be locked up. The number held in immigration detention each year has tripled from 500 in 2017 to over 1600 last year. Even when identified as possible victims of trafficking, people are not being released and are detained while waiting for a final decision in their case, when the average time for making these decisions is a staggering 17 months.
The Home Office frequently claims that people ‘abuse’ the system by claiming to be trafficked to secure their release from detention. But over 90% of cases are confirmed to be genuine victims of trafficking. There is no evidence of a process being abused – rather, people who have already been exploited and mistreated are experiencing further abuse by an immigration system that is not fit for purpose.
This report makes practical recommendations for improving that system and calls for an urgent comprehensive review of the process for detaining confirmed or possible victims of trafficking.