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Temporary relief for trafficking victims as High Court extends support payments


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We’ve been scooped on this one by The Sun, of all places. As every lefty lawyer’s favourite paper reports, a judge has temporarily abolished the 45-day limit on help for trafficking victims pending a further hearing.

Victims of human trafficking are entitled to £65 per week, accommodation at a safe house and a support worker. But this support ends 45 days after a “conclusive grounds decision” that they are definitely a victim. Two victims, known as NN and LP, are challenging the 45-day rule as unlawful. The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review, to be heard in May or June.

In the meantime, Mr Justice Julian Knowles has ordered that support for all confirmed victims carry on beyond 45 days. The Home Office “shall not restrict support for victims of trafficking under the Victims of Modern Slavery Contract by reference to the date of a Conclusive Grounds decision or the length of time the support has been provided”.

The judge wrote that:

In my judgment there is a real risk of irreparable harm to a significant number of vulnerable victims of slavery and trafficking if their support were to end after 45 days. When that is set against the fact that the system can cope if I order that their support be continued in the short term, I conclude that the balance of convenience comes down in favour of granting the general relief sought.

The judgment is R (NN) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1003 (Admin).

If the judicial review succeeds at full hearing, this temporary extension of support could become permanent. If so, expect to hear that it was the Sun wot won it, with the paper calling the High Court’s move a victory for its Stamp Out Slavery campaign. Others will credit the lawyers in the case: Chris Buttler, Zoe McCallum and Miranda Butler, instructed by Duncan Lewis.

Last year the Home Office attempted to cut the £65 a week stipend to £37.75, a move later found unlawful by Mr Justice Mostyn.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.