Protecting victims of modern slavery – how does your service measure up?

Friday, 27 January 2017 - 12:45pm

A new report has made a series of recommendations for homelessness services, anti-slavery organisations, local authorities, the government and police to improve the multi-agency response to modern slavery.

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A new report has highlighted how rough sleepers have been targeted and by traffickers and are at risk of being exposed to labour exploitation and abuse. Victims of modern slavery are also particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless after exiting safe-house support provision, and the lack of support networks can be catastrophic.

Last year Homeless Link supported The Passage, to survey our members to help better understand the scope and scale of trafficking and modern slavery issues within the homelessness sector. The report commissioned by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, draws together evidence from focus groups with frontline workers, survey of homelessness organisations, in depth interviews and data sets of homelessness organisations.

Kevin Hyland OBE, (the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner) comments in the report, “Those who work with the homeless are in a powerful position to identify potential victims of modern slavery, provide support and prevent exploitation from happening in the first place”.

Recommendations from the report include: 

  • Increasing awareness of the risks of exploitation among clients and staff within homelessness services
  • Ensuring adequate training is provided for frontline staff, volunteers and the public to enable them to respond to modern slavery issues
  • The development of regional recording systems to include fields that record details as to whether a client has been a victim of modern slavery, including when this was and how they were supported
  • Improvements to the information recorded in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and Local Authority contract monitoring tools
  • The government should address the gap in long-term support provision after victims leave the NRM in providing access to accommodation, benefits and support services
  • Expansion of good practice around joined-up approaches to tackling modern slavery and rough sleeping – including multi agency groups involving homelessness services, the police and other partners
  • Further training and resources on victim identification, pathway and referral routes specifically targeting the needs of those within the homelessness sector.

Mick Clarke, CEO of The Passage said: “It is our hope that this report acts as a catalyst to bring about the systemic change required to address this crime. To ensure that all organisations, voluntary or statutory, are fully aware of this issue, are equipped with the resources and training to address it, and work in a joined up way to ensure the most vulnerable are protected and those involved in this crime are brought to justice.” 

You can read the full report here.

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