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17 July 2015

Life beyond the safe house

Life beyond the safe house

Survivors of modern-day slavery, some of whom have endured horrific physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of traffickers, are being abandoned and are at risk of being re-trafficked, according to a report published on Monday.

The Life Beyond the Safe House for Survivors of Modern Slavery in London report, released this week by the Human Trafficking Foundation, reveals disturbing evidence as to what happens to survivors of modern slavery after they leave safe houses in London and are left to an unknown future.

It appears that some survivors disappear immediately, while others agree to enter the government scheme for identification, referral and support –the national referral mechanism.

The Home Office acknowledges there is no obligation in the government contract to monitor the outcomes for people who have received such support; either where they go or what they do to support themselves when the government duty of care ends.

The Human Trafficking Foundation set out to look at what could be done to change the current system which, in effect, allows survivors to 'disappear', with no authority or individual allocated responsibility for their future safety and welfare.

During this research the Foundation heard many distressing stories about the difficulties faced by vulnerable adults in obtaining access to even the most rudimentary support.

It's believed that although they have escaped from their traffickers, have been rescued and placed in a short-term safe environment, the majority of survivors lose any further engagement with the statutory services.

This is thought to put them at high risk of being drawn back into exploitative or abusive situations.

The Human Trafficking Foundation is calling for urgent action from central government and local authorities to ensure consistent post safe house support across the UK.

Tatiana Jardan, director of the Human Trafficking Foundation, said: "We believe that if no effective strategy is put in place to prevent re-victimisation by ensuring long-term support to survivors of modern slavery, the cycle of abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people may continue unabated."