People who have been exploited in the ways listed above are likely to be victims of human trafficking.
Importance of Being Recognised as a Victim of Human Trafficking
Some survivors of human trafficking are from overseas and for many, it is not possible to return home. This is because they may fear harm from those involved in their trafficking.
Recognition as a victim of human trafficking can help when making an application for asylum in the UK. It also enables an individual to ask for consideration of a grant of leave to remain.
Recognition as a victim of human trafficking can also be a protective factor against their criminal prosecution. For example, it may assist Criminal Defence Solicitors in relation to drugs offences. Victim recognition can also help in appealing criminal convictions.
Being recognised as a potential victim of human trafficking also means that they are entitled to access a raft of support from the state. This includes safe accommodation, counselling and education. It is recognised in law that if you have experienced exploitation, you require support and space to recover.
How to Get Recognised as a Victim of Human Trafficking
The process has to begin with a referral into something called the National Referral Mechanism. When frontline agencies such as the Police, Social Services, or the Home Office are aware of indicators that a person has been exploited, they should – providing the adult consents (no consent is required for children) – refer them into the National Referral Mechanism.
Once a referral into the National Referral Mechanism has been made, a two-stage decision making takes place relating to the trafficking claim. Within five days, a reasonable grounds decision should be made. This will either be positive or negative. The threshold for a positive decision at this stage is very low.
If the individual receives a positive reasonable grounds decision, a final or conclusive grounds decision should be made within 45 days. If the decision is positive, then that person is formally recognised as a victim of trafficking.
If a negative reasonable grounds or conclusive grounds decision is made, a person must bring any challenge to that decision within three months at the latest.
It’s important to contact a specialist Public Law Solicitor to help with any negative decisions as soon as possible because of the time limit. Legal Aid is available but does depend on financial eligibility.