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Human Trafficking: Victims

Volume 488: debated on Friday 27 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how much her Department is spending on the Poppy project in 2008-09; (258445)

(2) what capacity the Poppy project has to provide intensive support for the initial four-week support period;

(3) what mechanisms are in place to monitor the work of the Poppy project, including (a) how public funds are spent, (b) the capacity of the project in relation to demand, (c) the quality of counselling provided and (d) checks on volunteers;

(4) how many (a) full-time staff, (b) fully-qualified counsellors and (c) fully-qualified translators are employed by the Poppy project;

(5) what conditions apply to people receiving services provided by the Poppy project on (a) the initial four-week support, (b) support for resettlement, (c) compensation through (i) the courts and (ii) the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and (d) eligibility for the new renewable one-year residence permits;

(6) how many identified victims of trafficking received from the Poppy project (a) the initial four week support, (b) support for resettlement, (c) compensation through (i) the courts and (ii) the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, (d) eligibility for the new renewable one-year residence permits and (e) other services in each of the last five years;

(7) how many identified victims of trafficking were denied services from the Poppy project in each of the last five years due to (a) the project's limited capacity and (b) the refusal by the victim to co-operate with prosecutions; and what other options for support are available for victims in such cases.

I have been asked to reply.

The Government have invested £5.8 million into Eaves Housing for Women to run the Poppy project since 2003. The grant for this financial year is £1.3 million. This provides for a range of services including 35 supported accommodation places and eight full-time staff. While the project facilitates access to counselling and interpretative services and can pay for this where necessary, it does not directly employ these professionals.

Eaves Housing for Women is required to submit regular monitoring and financial information, which is reviewed on a quarterly basis. The organisation does not submit any specific information on the use of volunteers. However the organisation is required to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of clients, which includes undertaking Criminal Records Bureau checks for staff and volunteers.

Under the terms of the grant clients can be supported for an initial four weeks, with longer-term services provided in return for cooperation with the authorities. To qualify for support women must be over 18-years-old, trafficked into the United Kingdom and sexually exploited through prostitution in the United Kingdom.

Between March 2003 and December 2008, 423 women received support from the Poppy project; 215 benefited from supported accommodation and 208 received outreach support. The Poppy project has developed partnerships with other organisations to help provide alternative services for individuals that do not meet the eligibility criteria or when the project is at capacity. Information on the number of individuals that have been unable to access the Poppy project is not held centrally.

It is open to the courts to award compensation orders in favour of a victim of crime and victims of violence can also apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. While the Poppy project can inform victims of avenues to access compensation, it is not within their authority to determine eligibility for, or administer compensation.

This year we will be expanding support services for victims of human trafficking and extending the reflection and recovery period to a minimum of 45 days. The Government will also introduce new renewable temporary residence permits for identified victims of human trafficking that participate in a criminal investigation.