Call for ban of holding trafficking victims in immigration detention centres

Victims of slavery and trafficking are being held in immigration detention centres for “administrative convenience”, MPs have been told.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee heard the claim during its inquiry into modern slavery, looking at detention of victims of slavery and trafficking in immigration detention centres.

Giving recommendations to the committee on Tuesday, a panel of professionals said victims of slavery and trafficking should never be held in detention centres and called for a halt to the process.

They recommended an independent body be brought in to oversee the process rather than the Home Office.

Ahmed Aydeed, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, said: “This is really detention for administrative convenience.

“Potential victims and victims of trafficking shouldn’t really be detained.”

He said there were recurring themes and problems in the unlawful detention cases he had handled and there was a “conflict” in the Home Office handling such matters, telling the committee of a £85,000 settlement secured for a young trafficking victim from the authorities.

Mr Aydeed (pictured) said: “Imagine the human suffering behind that because we have decided that to keep this person detained for administrative convenience.”

Sarah Teather, director of charity Jesuit Refugee Service UK, said there had been a “succession of failures” to notice the telling signs that someone may have been trafficked when they are being assessed.

She said: “I’m concerned victims of trafficking are being held in detention centres.

“Detention has a lasting experience over them.

“The decision making appears to be poor.”

Victims were less likely to disclose what happened to them when their experience of dealing with officials had been “negative and hostile”, she added.

Ms Teather said told the committee there should be a time limit on detention to prevent people being held there for so long, legal advice for victims as well as an “independent body involved in detention”

James Wilson, deputy director of charity Detention Action, agreed there should be an independent body and said there had been a “major failure” in that victims were not being detected before being detained, adding: “I think it’s a serious issue.”

The panel said victims were held in detention centres over matters of “public order”.

But Mr Aydeed said, to date, the Home Office had been unable to provide him with a definition for this or guidance on how this is measured.

The discussion came after it was reported the Home Office had agreed to drop its 45-day time limit on arranging support for trafficking victims.

The department is said to have conceded the length of time to provide help like financial support, counselling and accommodation in a safe house, should be determined on an individuals’ needs, according to The Independent.

In a statement responding to the reports, the Home Office said: “The Government is committed to stamping out modern slavery and providing victims with the support they need to begin rebuilding their lives.

“We are always building our understanding of the complex needs of victims of modern slavery and striving to improve the support available.

“We have already significantly increased support for victims earlier this year, and we will continue to drive improvements to the services available to ensure they are meeting the recovery needs of victims.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Duncan Lewis Solicitors.