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Government changes trafficking appeals policy after High Court judgment

Improvements in the system for reconsidering whether someone is a victim of human trafficking.


02 December 2019
Government changes trafficking appeals policy after High Court judgment

Lawyers representing an Albanian women who suffered sexual exploitation have secured improvements in the system for reconsidering whether someone is a victim of human trafficking.

Decisions on whether somebody is a victim of human trafficking are made through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which potential victims can be referred to by certain organisations known as ‘first responders’. These include police forces, councils and charities. Once referred to the NRM, the decision as to whether someone is a victim of trafficking is made through the Home Office’s Single Competent Authority Process (CAP), which is split into two stages: whether there are ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that someone is a victim, and the confirmatory of whether there are ‘conclusive grounds’.

The case challenged the lack of formal process in place to appeal the CAP decision. Previously, appeals could only be submitted by first responders or support providers through a formal arrangement, which excluded lawyers and other organisations from appealing a decision. Lawyers representing the claimant challenged this process when she was twice turned down by the Home Office as having victim status, who then refused to consider two appeals due to the fact that they did not come from a first responder or support organisation. The Home Office only reconsidered after legal action was brought.

The High Court judgment ruled that the process of only considering requests for reconsideration if they came through certain organisations was unlawful and ‘an abdication of the state’s responsibility’ to identify and support victims, as it permitted officials to ignore new evidence if it didn’t come from approved sources. The High Court issued an immediate amendment, which means that if future victims get help from someone other than a first responder or support organisation to challenge a negative trafficking decision, their request will no longer be ignored.

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