The Home Office has U-turned on a policy that deprived modern slavery victims of protection from traffickers.
Modern slavery charities and human rights campaigners have welcomed the change, which reinstates protections for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
The policy, introduced by Suellea Braverman on the 31st January 2023, introduced a change denying support for victims of modern slavery with a previous criminal conviction. This support includes accomodation, counselling and financial assistance.
Campaigners have argued that the policy, in place for almost a year, is responsible for forcing many victims into dangerous situations and could drive victims back into the hands of their traffickers. Victims of modern slavery are often forced into illegal activity by their traffickers, including sex work, cannabis cultivation, and "County Lines" drug trafficking offences.
A case in the High Court, the Home Office revealed that 252 people had been denied support in the year the policy was in effect.
Ben Ryan of the Medaille Trust had this to say on the policy change:
This is a really welcome decision from the Home Secretary. Medaille believe that support should always be available to survivors of slavery to help them to rebuild their lives and avoid the cycles of re-exploitation and abuse that are sadly all too common.
We have worked with many survivors who have been compelled into criminal activity by their abusers and others who have been targeted for their vulnerability and recruited while in the criminal justice system. Without support structures in place these people remain highly vulnerable to re-exploitation, are disincentivised from co-operating with police to pursue their abusers, and would not receive the support they need to rebuild their lives.
For more information on the policy change, read the full article at the Guardian's website.