Victims Of Human Trafficking Abandoned By Government, MPs Told
Victims of human trafficking are abandoned by the government and left at risk of repeated abuse, MPs were told on Wednesday.
Christian charity CARE joined Baroness Butler-Sloss and other trafficking experts in leading calls for special provisions to be made for trafficking victims in the benefit system.
Under the current structure victims are often rescued from their abusers only to be left without welfare support and unable to work, making them vulnerable to be re-trafficked.
Louise Gleich, human trafficking policy officer at CARE, described the government's support for victims as "very limited" and "short-term".
She joined the independent peer Butler-Sloss and Kate Roberts from the Human Trafficking Foundation in giving evidence to the work and pensions select committee on Wednesday morning.
Speaking to Christian Today she warned the lack of essential care leaves "victims at further risk of exploitation".
She said: "The special circumstances of human trafficking victims need to be recognised in the system and allowances made.
"For instance, victims should not be put through certain eligibility tests, as the process of having to go through these tests can be hugely retraumatising."
Victims are cared for in safe houses, many run by the Salvation Army, for a short time after they escape trafficking. But after they leave the safe houses, there is little specific government support available for them.
Gleich told Christian Today: "Many fail the 'eligibility tests' required to access those benefits because they simply can't provide the evidence required of them due to their exploitation such as where they have been living, how long they have been in the country, what they have been earning."
Butler-Sloss, vice-chair of the Human Trafficking Foundation and co-chair of the all-party group on trafficking, warned "a great many people go missing" because of the failure to give support.
She also warned that perpetrators escaped justice because witnesses are going missing.
"If they go missing there is no opportunity for police to question them," she told MPs on the committee.
CARE called for special roles in council offices and job centres to support trafficked victims when they seek support.
"Failure to make these changes risks human trafficking victims falling through the net and puts them in great danger of being re-trafficked," Gleich warned