In 2021, the National Referral Mechanism received 12,727 referrals in relation to potential victims of modern day slavery. This figure included more children than ever before. Victims of modern day slavery represent some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, and for most, if not all, the impact of their experiences will remain with them for the remainder of their lives. In line with both domestic and international legislation, victims of modern day slavery are entitled to support, however, we often find that those who are in custody are forgotten.

The ATLEU brought a claim for judicial review on behalf of victims, and potential victims, of modern day slavery in prisons. They claimed that the Justice Secretary had acted unlawfully by not having in place any written policy or procedure on prisons and how they should treat survivors of trafficking whilst they are in custody. To support their judicial review, they called upon Modern Slavery practitioners to provide evidence of their experiences of working with victims of modern day slavery who were detained in custody. We provided evidence to support their claim.

The ATLEU were successful and the Secretary of State for Justice has confirmed that he will develop guidance on victims, and potential victims, of modern day slavery for prison staff. This will ensure that the needs of victims of modern day slavery in custody are assessed, that they receive appropriate support whilst in custody and that they are also referred for support in the community prior to their release. The full guidance is expected later this year.