Hope for Justice gives evidence to MPs

Hope for Justice Director of Legal Policy, Phillipa Roberts, appeared before MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday (Tuesday) as part of its inquiry into modern slavery and the UK government’s response.

Phillipa gave expert evidence informed by Hope for Justice’s decade of working closely with victims and the bureaucratic systems they have to navigate, alongside colleagues from other anti-trafficking charities.

She answered questions on a number of issues, often focusing on the “cliff edge” in support faced by victims after exiting the National Referral Mechanism system of safe house support.

She also spoke strongly in favour of Lord McColl’s Bill, currently working its way through Parliament, which is being supported by Hope for Justice as part of the Free For Good campaign. This Bill would rectify a number of the most glaring problems with the existing systems, including ensuring that victims of modern slavery receive assistance and support for 12 months following conclusive identification, and ‘leave to remain’ in the UK for this period to enable assistance.

The Home Affairs Committee inquiry is just the latest in a series of reviews and official investigations into this issue, including the 2014 Oppenheim Review of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM); the 2017 Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry; the 2017 Committee of Public Accounts Report; and the National Audit Office’s 2017 report, ‘Reducing Modern Slavery’.

The MPs also heard evidence from Kevin Hyland, who recently stepped down as the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

MPs on the Committee were concerned to hear that despite a flurry of announcements from the government about improvements to victim care, the only change actually implemented so far has been a cut in financial support levels for some victims.