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Human Trafficking: Victims

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 14 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the immigration status is of the 167 victims of human trafficking recovered during Operation Pentameter 2. (244770)

The reluctance of many victims to accept third sector support and co-operate with the authorities made accurate assessment of immigration status difficult. But we know 60 were EU nationals and five others had indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 36 adult victims are recorded as having returned home voluntarily, including some EU nationals. A further 16 adults were removed using immigration powers. Of the remainder, a number ceased to cooperate at a very early stage while others lodged applications to remain in the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what protection is made available to trafficked persons following the conviction of those responsible for their trafficking. (244952)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government's victim protection measures are not dependent on a conviction. We currently fund the Poppy project to provide specialist support to adult victims of these crimes. Victims are provided with unconditional intensive support for four weeks, with longer-term services provided in return for co-operation with a criminal investigation. The TARA project is funded to provide similar support services in Scotland. We also offer victims support with resettlement in their home country or within the United Kingdom where eligible. A victim whose safety is seriously at risk as a result of giving evidence may be placed in a police witness protection programme. Victims can also apply for asylum and humanitarian protection where appropriate.

We have ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against the Trafficking in Human Beings which will come into force in April 2009. This will see the introduction of a 45 day reflection period where victims can consider their future options and one-year temporary resident permits, both of which can be extended in certain circumstances. Each case will have to be considered on its individual merits. The new measures are intended to compliment the asylum and humanitarian procedures and for many victims that may remain the most appropriate avenue of protection.