The Salvation Army has outlined its support for the intention of the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill which had its second reading in the House of Lords today (September 7).
Anne Read, The Salvation Army’s Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, said:
“The Salvation Army supports the intention of the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill to provide an ongoing statutory basis for the support received by victims of modern slavery.
“Currently, the period for reflection and recovery for victims of modern slavery is a minimum of 45 days and commences once a decision has been made by a government agency that there are reasonable grounds to believe the person may be a victim of modern slavery.
“We can apply for an extension to the 45 day period where we feel someone requires continued support as part of the service and the average support period has always exceeded 45 days, with potential victims of modern slavery eligible for up to a further 14 days support once a decision is made by a government agency that there are conclusive grounds for them to be regarded as a victim of modern slavery. Between July 2015 and June 2016 on average victims were supported for almost 95 days in our safe house accommodation or for almost 153 days for those who received outreach support.
“We continue to feed back to the government, as we did during consultations on the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, that there should be a greater degree of flexibility around the length of the reflection and recovery period for all victims of modern slavery, irrespective of their immigration status, as the needs of individuals vary so widely.
"By this we mean that rather than a fixed timescale - once a decision is made by a government agency that there are conclusive grounds for them to be regarded as a victim of modern slavery –the completion of the reflection and recovery period should be based on the attainment of specific outcomes, which would afford a survivor of modern slavery, the degree of stability necessary to continue rebuilding their lives once they leave the service. We feel these outcomes should include access to stable accommodation, a sustainable income including state benefits, the initiation of criminal proceedings and any claims for compensation, and also the resolution of immigration matters.
“It is also vitally important that the Bill places an explicit statutory duty on relevant government agencies, in particular local authorities and the Department for Work and Pensions, as to their responsibilities to victims of modern slavery.
“As soon as a potential victim of modern slavery enters our service we and our specialist partners begin the process of preparing them for when they will need to leave.
"The Salvation Army provides care and support for adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales as part of a Government contract known as the Victim Care Service. Between July 2011 and June 21016 a total of 4,314 victims have been supported by The Salvation Army and partner organisations. Where accommodation is needed our safe houses offer a safe haven, and all victims are offered tailored, specialist services to ensure that every person referred will receive the best and most appropriate support available.”