Clause 52 - Identified potential victims in England and Wales: assistance and support

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 2 Tachwedd 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Craig Whittaker Craig Whittaker Assistant Whip, The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury 10:30, 2 Tachwedd 2021

I thank the hon. Lady for raising important issues around the support and assistance offered to victims of modern slavery and trafficking. Support for potential victims is a fundamental pillar of our approach to assisting those impacted by this horrendous crime and reducing the risk of their being re-trafficked. We are agreed on the importance of placing the entitlement to support in legislation, which is what the clause will do. Our intention in our drafting was to provide victims with certainty about the circumstances in which support is provided through the NRM; we know that is imperative in aiding their recovery. To this end, we have sought to put in clause 52 that support will be provided where

“it is necessary for the purpose of assisting the person receiving it in their recovery from any harm to their physical and mental health and their social well-being arising from the conduct which resulted in the positive reasonable grounds decision in question.”

Amendment 2 would restrict this support to where it was needed for a victim’s

“physical, psychological and social recovery or to prevent their re-trafficking.”

This provides less clarity on what these terms mean for victims and decision makers, reducing the clause’s effectiveness in supporting victims. Our approach is not to do as amendment 4 suggests and go into detail in the clause on the types of support provided, but to instead do that in guidance. The reason is twofold: it provides us with the flexibility to tailor support to victims, and to ensure that we are able to amend the guidance and support as our understanding of victims’ needs changes.

After entering the NRM, potential victims are entitled to access a wide range of specialist support services to help them rebuild their lives. This includes safe house accommodation, financial support, and a social worker to assist with access to services including, but not limited to, health care, legal advice and translation services. Following a positive conclusive grounds decision, confirmed victims’ ongoing recovery needs are assessed, and a clear plan is tailored to their specific recovery needs to help them transition out of support and back into a community, where this is possible. Confirmed victims’ recovery needs are assessed to ensure that the overall support package provided through the modern slavery victim care contract is specific to the individual. This needs-based approach ensures that the Government provide targeted and personalised support to victims to help them recover and rebuild their lives.

As I have outlined, the details of the types of assistance and support that can be provided already exist in the modern slavery statutory guidance under section 49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Bringing this detail into primary legislation, as amendment 4 seeks, is not appropriate and would create a fixed, blanket approach to support, making it harder to adjust our approach in the future and tailor to victims’ individual needs as our understanding of trauma develops. Amendment would also necessitate that assistance and support may be provided only with the consent of that person. As children are not necessarily able to offer their consent in an informed way, the amendment may—unintentionally, I am sure—exclude children from the provision.

Finally, amendment 3 seeks to stipulate the minimum length of time support is provided after a positive conclusive grounds decision. In contrast, our approach is to provide tailored support to victims following a recovery needs assessment through a tailored transition plan. The plan can be put in place for up to six months at a time, with no overall limit. This will enable us to deliver the most appropriate and effective needs-based support to victims.