Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery
Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery is a criminal offence. It includes slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.

A person is trafficked if they are brought to (or moved around) a country by others who threaten, frighten, hurt and force them to do work or other things they don’t want to do.

Work by the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser has estimated that there are between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery cases in the UK in a year.

Due to its length, I’ve divided this article into two parts. This is part 1. Here is the link to part 2.

 

Help for Adult Victims of Modern Slavery

If a person is believed to be a victim of slavery, then they will be entitled to help and protection from the UK Government through the scheme, which is called the National Referral Mechanism. All support is provided on a confidential basis.

The National Referral Mechanism has been put in place to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to organisations that will offer help and support. Individuals identified as victims of Modern Slavery are entitled to a minimum recovery and reflection period of 45 days. As part of this, care and support is provided by The Salvation Army.

 

What Kind of Help Will be Provided?

Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery
Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery

Victims of Modern Slavery may feel scared, powerless and alone. However, help is available. Victims of Modern Slavery will get independent emotional, medical and practical help.

This support could include but is not limited to:

  • finding temporary safe accommodation
  • helping with medical treatment
  • having someone to help them cope with their experience.
  • providing an interpreter/translator to help them communicate in English.
  • protection: if they chose to report it to the police. The police will take a statement, offer protection from perpetrators, start an investigation and will keep the victims informed. They can also help the victims make discretionary leave to remain application. Alternatively, they may submit these applications on behalf of their victims.
  • independent legal advice.

When to Consider Applying for a Grant of Discretionary Leave

It is important to understand that a person will not qualify for discretionary leave automatically on the basis of being identified as a victim of modern slavery. The Home Office will expect them to provide reasons based on their individual circumstances to justify a grant of discretionary leave.

Discretionary leave may be considered where a Competent Authority has made a positive conclusive grounds decision that a person is a victim of modern slavery. In these circumstances, where they are not eligible for any other form of leave (for example, asylum or humanitarian protection).

The Secretary of State may consider granting leave because:

  • it is necessary owing to the victim’s personal circumstances
  • it is necessary to pursue compensation for the victim.
  • or where victims who are helping police with their enquiries.

 

What is a Competent Authority?

Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery
Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery

A Competent Authority consists of two units:

  • the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) and
  • the Home Office

After first respondents refer a case for investigation to the National Referral Mechanism, they are initially directed to the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit.

The MSHTU is responsible for making decisions on all cases involving:

  • a British Citizen
  • a European Economic Area (EEA) national (where there is NO live immigration issue)

The MSHTU will refer all other cases to the Home Office Competent Authority, who will make decisions on all other cases.

 

How does the Single Competent Authority receive a referral?

The SCA receives a referral from a first responder.

First responders are designated organisations which can refer potential victims of modern slavery in the UK into the National Referral Mechanism.

First responders are:

  • the Home Office (including UK Border Force, UK Visas and Immigration, and Immigration Enforcement
  • local authorities
  • Health and Social Care Trusts (HSC Trusts (Northern Ireland))
  • police
  • National Crime Agency (NCA)
  • Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA)
  • Migrant Help
  • Kalayaan
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority
  • Medaille Trust
  • Salvation Army
  • Barnardo’s
  • National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)
  • Unseen UK
  • New Pathways
  • BAWSO
  • Refugee Council

 

The end of Part 1. CLICK HERE to continue reading part two.

Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery
Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery
Discretionary Leave in the UK for Victims of Modern Slavery (part 1 of 2)