HTF Local Authorities Newsletter August 2020

HTF Modern Slavery Newsletter for Local Authorities

Welcome to The Human Trafficking Foundation (HTF) newsletter for local authorities, tailored to provide you with the information, resource, updates and tools to support you in meeting your statutory responsibilities in tackling modern slavery and in developing good practice locally.

If you would like to find out more information about the work of the Human Trafficking Foundation, please email [email protected] or see our website

Survey: Impact of Covid-19 on London Local Authorities

As part of the Human Trafficking Foundation’s work to support local authorities in London in their response to human trafficking and modern slavery, we have produced a short 7 minute survey to assess the impact of the pandemic on London’s response to modern slavery and support consideration for next steps. We would be grateful if you could take 7 minutes of your time to take the survey, available here.

Findings from this survey will be reviewed by London Modern Slavery Leads group to consider possible actions. HTF will also use these findings to inform how its work can be most useful for London boroughs as we adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Services and Training

New Advocacy Support for Modern Slavery Survivors in London
The Eastern European Support Centre (EERC) are re-starting their advocacy service for survivors of modern slavery in London. EERC will be accepting referrals from mid-September. For details, email [email protected] 
To speak to advocates in English or Polish, call
07521857415 ( Monday – Friday). For Romanian, call 07730021986 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Bespoke Awareness Training: Modern Slavery and the NHS
STOP THE TRAFFIK offers bespoke modern slavery awareness training to equip healthcare professionals with the knowledge, understanding, tools and resources necessary, to identify victims of modern slavery and respond appropriately, rescuing victims from exploitation. See more here 
ECPAT Free Webinar and Online Training Programme
ECPAT UK re-launched its online training programme this month, which includes a free webinar focusing on best interest of the child. For a full list of training options see their website

Event: Cutting Across County Lines
The Research Office at the University of Westminster is holding a workshop on 20 October to help participants understand and tackle County Lines, bringing together survivors and their families with other important stakeholders. For more details and tickets, see Eventbrite page

National Policy Updates

Financial Support for Survivors in Temporary Asylum Accommodation
On 13 July, Home Office payments to survivors of modern slavery in catered temporary asylum accommodation – previously £35 per week – ceased. On 27 August, the Home Office announced that from 28 August people receiving support through the Victim Care Contract (VCC) for survivors of modern slavery living in initial asylum accommodation will receive £25.40 through the VCC. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 Statutory Guidance, which also outlines roles and responsibilities of local authorities, has been updated accordingly.

An Alternative Model for Decision-Making for Children
The Home Office is exploring whether children who have been trafficked would be better supported by local authorities making decisions regarding whether children have experienced human trafficking and modern slavery. If you would like more information or would like to provide feedback, please email Chereece at [email protected] 

Independent Child Trafficking Guardians Rollout
In July, the Home Office announced it would be commencing the national roll out of Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs), currently being delivered in the early-adopter sites by Barnardo’s. The Home Office announced in its newsletter on 31 July 2020 that it would be reaching out to local authorities and multi-agency partners in areas with the highest need in the following weeks. Contact [email protected] for information.

Guidance Update: Recovery Needs Assessment for transition to mainstream support services
The Recovery Needs Assessment determines when an individual’s VCC support ends following a positive conclusive grounds decision through the NRM and a minimum 45 day move-on period. A summary of changes to the guidance is available here. Key changes include that if the Home Office decision-maker does not agree with the support recommendations from the survivor’s support worker, or no ongoing recovery needs have been identified, the victim must exit the VCC within 9 working days after receipt of the RNA decision, or at the end of their minimum post-CG 45 day move-on period (whichever is later). 
There is currently no process for reconsideration for negative RNA decisions from the Home Office.

Exploitation in London

‘It was like jail’: Domestic workers face cycle of exploitation in lockdown London
“Since the pandemic hit the UK, we have received a number of reports from workers who have been dismissed from jobs, and with no entitlement to support, have been left destitute,” explains Avril Sharp, policy and casework officer at Kalayaan in the article, available here.

Couple rescued by GLAA after sleeping rough at London Underground station
A Romanian couple trafficked to the UK have been identified by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) after investigators found them sleeping rough inside a London Underground station.

GLAA officers found the husband and wife at Marble Arch station in July after the couple had managed to contact one of their friends to explain that they had been discarded by their exploiters and left with nothing. For full details, see media release attached.

Child Exploitation

A review of what works in multi-agency decision making and the implications for child victims of trafficking
The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Dame Sara Thornton, and ECPAT UK, have examined what works in existing multi-agency decision making frameworks to help inform future thinking on potential pilots for devolved National Referral Mechanism (NRM) decision making for child victims of trafficking. Read the review here.
Tackling child exploitation – call for bespoke support applications
The Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Support Programme is accepting applications from local areas to develop their strategic response to tackle child exploitation and extra-familial harm. The programme, commissioned by the Department for Education, led by Research in Practice, in partnership with The Children’s Society and University of Bedfordshire, aims to support local areas to develop an effective strategic response to child exploitation and threats from outside the family home, covering child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation, including county lines drug trafficking. Deadline 11 September. See webpage for information.

FREE WEBINAR: Take Drugs Seriously: Drugs, Trafficking and Exploitation
Families for Safer Drug Control and Transform Drug Policy Foundation are pleased to invite you to our upcoming webinar ‘Take Drugs Seriously: Drugs, Trafficking and Exploitation’. This webinar coincides with the launch of our new briefing ‘Reforming drug policies to reduce trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable people’. See webpage for information.

The Children’s Society: How did we adapt our mental health and well-being services during the Covid-19 pandemic?
This briefing reflects on the changes made to The Children’s Society’s brief intervention services for emotional health and well-being as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Modern Slavery and Covid-19

Modern slavery risks for care-workers in England during COVID-19 pandemic
By Nottingham Rights Lab
Extract: The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant strain on the care sector. Much government and media attention has been paid to the increased risks being faced by social care, particularly regarding contracting COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic, and the increased strain on the care sector, risks exacerbating these already present issues to increase modern slavery vulnerability. Briefing here. Full report here.

Fears Modern Slavery Victims Are Falling Off Radar As Referrals See Huge Drop During Lockdown (article)
More than 10,000 people were identified as potential victims of modern slavery last year. But this article explains a lack of frontline services this year has seen figures drop. Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, said: “Lockdown removed many of the usual ways of identifying children at risk of being exploited by gangs. With the closure of schools and youth centres, thousands of vulnerable young people have simply gone off the radar.

“As rules are relaxed there will be particular dangers for young people at risk of criminal exploitation.” Full article here.

NHS Rapid Read / COVID-19: Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
At the beginning of the pandemic, the NHS put together a useful one-page document on modern slavery risks and how to respond. Please see attached.

Home Office COVID-19 Rapid Read for Modern Slavery First Responders
Please see document attached, including details on how the spot the signs and how to respond.

Call for participants: COVID-19 and Child Criminal Exploitation research 
Nottingham Rights Lab is undertaking research into the effects of COVID-19 on child and adult exploitation linked to county lines drug supply in the UK. As part of the research they’re eager to speak to analysts and frontline practitioners working in different roles with young people and adults at risk of exploitation.
If you’d be interested and available to share insights to help their research, please email [email protected] or click here for more information on the research.

LGA Guidance – COVID-19 outbreak: reset and recovery Councillor guidance
The focus of this document is the specific role of councillors in councils’ work leading and supporting our communities as we move through the process of ending the lockdown and look ahead to the aspirations we have for our local areas as a new form of normality is increasingly restored. See guidance here.

Modern Slavery and Homelessness

Modern slavery and homelessness data
Project TILI is a multi-agency project (from Crisis, Hestia, BAWSO, Women’s Aid Belfast and Shared Lives) which will be collecting data over the next year on modern slavery and homelessness across England Wales and Northern Ireland.
If you are interested in receiving and using the insights from TILI data, with no commitment or contribution required in return, please email [email protected].

Modern Slavery Multi-Agency Case Conferences for homeless potential victims evaluation report: The Passage & Westminster City Council
The Passage established a Multi-Agency Case Conference (MACC) approach to safeguarding potential victims of modern slavery, trafficking and exploitation who are homeless, including people with no recourse to public funds, beginning in November 2018 in partnership with Westminster City Council (Adult Safeguarding Team and Housing Team) and the NHS Central London Homeless Teams (Homeless Health Team and Joint Health Team). It explores help available to people at risk of (re)trafficking and (re)exploitation and tests the efficiency of the MACC approach as well as possible replication in other boroughs. See full details and report here

Labour Exploitation

GLAA secures first Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has had its first Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STROs) granted at court to prevent a Romanian couple from trafficking vulnerable and exploited workers to the UK.

Evidence collected as part of investigations by the GLAA indicated that workers were at risk of being exploited through debt bondage, cramped accommodation, and even the threat of physical violence. See media release for information.

Employment rights and support videos in 11 languages
As the lockdown eases and more people start going back to work, it is vital that workers have access to information about their rights and know where to seek help if they experience problems at work.FLEX has partnered with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to produce an information video about where workers can report exploitative working practices, including modern slavery.

Videos are available in 11 languages: EnglishItalianPortugueseSpanishPolish,
HungarianRomanianRomanesHindiBahasa Indonesia and Tagalog.

Report: Parallel societies: slavery, exploitation and criminal subculture in Leicester

COVID-19 has put under the spotlight the fast fashion industry in Leicester East, and its exploitation of thousands of (mostly immigrant) workers. Exploitation that ranges from unsafe working conditions through to slavery; from staff being paid below the minimum wage to fraud. Read the full report from the Centre for Social Justice here.