Home Office concedes that 45-day trafficking support policy is unlawful

Monday 1 July 2019

Miranda Butler of Garden Court acted for NN and LP, instructed by Duncan Lewis.

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The Home Office has conceded that support for recognised victims of trafficking cannot be limited by reference to how long the individual has been supported, following a successful challenge to the lawfulness of their policy limiting such support to 45 days. 

Victims of trafficking or modern slavery are entitled to various forms of support pursuant to the European Convention Against Trafficking and the EU Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking. This support includes provision of accommodation in a safe house, financial support of £65 per week and access to the services of a support worker.  In October 2018 the Home Office introduced a policy whereby victims of trafficking would lose this support 45 days after being recognised by way of a ‘Conclusive Grounds’ decision. 

NN and LP, two victims of trafficking challenged this policy on the grounds that it clearly breached the UK’s obligations to support and protect victims of trafficking. In their judicial review challenge NN and LP argued that the UK was obliged to provide support as long as the victim requires it or leaves the UK’s jurisdiction.

Mr Justice Julian Knowles granted interim relief suspending the 45-day policy (see judgments here and here). His second decision has significance for any strategic litigation as it confirms the court’s ability to grant generic interim relief in claims brought by individual claimants. 

In a consent order and statement of reasons filed with the court on 28 June 2019, NN and LP settled their claim. In the statement of reasons the Home Office accepted that the Trafficking Convention requires support to be provided if an individual needs it and not by reference to how long an individual has been supported. 

The Home Office has committed to developing and implementing a needs-based system of supporting victims of trafficking. Until that policy is finalise, the Home Office will publish an interim policy without support being limited by reference to time. The Home Office also confirmed that it had no intention of reintroducing the 45-day rule or any similar provision pending introduction of these policies. 

This case was reported by Guardian.

Miranda Butler is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law team. She acted for NN and LP, led by Chris Butler of Matrix Chambers, who also led Zoe McCallum of the same chambers. They were instructed by Ahmed Aydeed, Karen Staunton and Harvey Slade of Duncan Lewis. 

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