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Only 7% of Trafficking Victims Given Leave to Remain

In the last five years, the Home Office granted only 7% of leave to remain requests between April 2016 and June 2021.

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Guardian data shows less than 10% of grants issued

The Home Office received 6,066 applications from individuals who had been victims of trafficking.

Only 447 of these (7%) were ultimately issued with leave to remain grants.

4,695 were rejected while 924 cases were still being processed at the date of publication of the figures.

The data was revealed in response to a freedom of information request from the Scottish Refugee Council.

In the official Home Office guidance document, it states that:

“Modern slavery is a serious crime encompassing slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. The government is committed to ending modern slavery and towards supporting victims of modern slavery.

As part of this strategy there are occasions when it may be appropriate to grant discretionary leave to remain (DL) to individuals from abroad who have been confirmed as victims of modern slavery.”

woman and man looking at documents and speaking

When a grant of discretionary leave may be considered

Current Home Office guidance states that a person is not automatically entitled to discretionary leave due to being a victim of modern slavery.

It further states that “There must be reasons based on their individual circumstances to justify a grant of DL.”

Discretionary leave is a form of leave granted outside the immigration rules, and they cannot be made outside the UK.

Where a child is concerned, their best interests should be a key consideration of the decision.

Discretionary leave may be considered when a Competent Authority has concluded that an individual is a victim of modern slavery and meets at least one of the below criteria:

  • The grant of leave is necessary due to personal circumstances

In this instance, the request is considered under human rights and safeguarding law. In some cases, there may be a more advantageous form of leave available, or it may be deemed safe to return the individual to their home country.

  • The grant of leave is necessary in order to pursue compensation

It some instances, it may be possible for victims of modern slavery to pursue the perpetrators of their exploitation for financial compensation. In these cases, DL may be issued where it would be unreasonable for the victim to pursue the case from outside the UK.

  • The victim is helping police with their enquiries

If a person who is a victim of modern slavery has agreed to assist with police enquiries, they may apply for leave to be granted or extended on this basis.

High Court judgement stated all trafficking victims should be given leave to remain

A landmark judgement issued in October 2021 by the High Court found that all trafficking victims should be entitled to leave to remain.

The lawyer who brought the High Court Case, Ahmed Aydeed, stated that the figures on trafficking victims was too low:

“Victims of trafficking, experience a profound loss of their sense of safety and security. A reliably safe environment is a pre-requisite for recovery.

By refusing, en masse it seems, leave to remain to victims, the home secretary is re-traumatising survivors and putting them at risk of being re-trafficked.”

The Scottish Refugee Council has stated that:

“There is a real crisis in the chronically slow asylum decision system that awaits them. It entraps women, men and children into state-enforced poverty limbo for years.

This is even when they are from high refugee recognition countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.

We urge the Lords to dismantle the bill, and for the government to scrap it, and invest in swifter better asylum decisions.”

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