The report was commissioned by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, and produced by The Passage, an organisation that helps homeless people transform their lives.
Hope for Justice is attending the report’s launch in London today.
Kevin Hyland said: “We must do more to safeguard our country’s most vulnerable people. This report highlights the work that so urgently needs to take place.
“It is crucial that frontline organisations protect the homeless, before they fall victim to modern slavery, and support the enslaved, before they become rough sleepers on our streets. The time to act is now.”
Hope for Justice legal director, Phillipa Roberts, said: “We fully endorse this excellent report. The recommendations of working collaboratively with homelessness organisations and others in multi-agency partnerships to ensure homeless victims are identified is an approach that Hope for Justice has taken for a number of years. It’s an approach which has invariably led to victims being successfully identified and rescued out of their situations.
“Additionally, we fully endorse the recommendations made in respect of the need to address the gap in support after victims leave the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). If victims are identified, placed in the NRM and are then homeless after leaving the NRM, this will frequently result in these victims being re-trafficked and/or re-exploited.”
Mick Clarke, CEO of The Passage, said: “It is our hope that this report acts as a catalyst to bring about the systemic change required to address this crime. To ensure that all organisations, voluntary or statutory, are fully aware of this issue, are equipped with the resources and training to address it, and work in a joined up way to ensure the most vulnerable are protected and those involved in this crime are brought to justice.”
The full list of recommendations is reproduced below:
Training and raising awareness
Recommendation 1. Homelessness and anti-slavery organisations, working in partnership with local authorities and police, must raise awareness among the homeless population about the risks of exploitation.
Recommendation 2. Homelessness organisations need to ensure that staff are given adequate training on modern slavery and know how to respond.
Recommendation 3. Homelessness organisations should ensure that their assessment tools enable trained staff members or volunteers to identify if someone is a victim of modern slavery and how to refer them for appropriate support.
Recommendation 4. Homelessness and anti-slavery organisations that are working with local communities should raise awareness among the public that a homeless person can be a victim of modern slavery and, equally, that a homeless person is at risk of becoming a victim of modern slavery.
Data collection and collation
Recommendation 5. Systems used by homelessness organisations or local authorities that are involved in managing existing homelessness recording systems, or developing new regional systems, must include fields that record details on whether a client has been a victim of modern slavery, including when this took place and how the victim was supported. Systems should be consistent between regions in the sets of data collected in order to facilitate comparison and collation.
Recommendation 6. The process of recording data within the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) should be amended to include closed categories that would specify what type of NGO the referral to a First Responder has originated from, such as a homelessness organisation, in order to improve data on the links between homelessness and modern slavery as well as other vulnerability sectors.
Recommendation 7. Local authorities that commission rough sleeping services should consider how they can use their contract monitoring tools to more closely monitor the occurrence of modern slavery.
Recommendation 8. A prevalence study should be carried out to provide a further, more thorough, view of the extent to which modern slavery is experienced within the homeless population.
Recommendation 9. The Government should address the gap in move-on and long-term support provision for victims of modern slavery after they leave the NRM, having received a positive conclusive grounds decision. This includes providing adequate funding to ensure access to accommodation, welfare benefits and other move-on support services, including safe and voluntary return to their country of origin.
Recommendation 10. Multi-agency partnerships, which include statutory authorities, the police, anti-slavery and homelessness charities, local communities, and other interested parties, should be used more widely across the country to ensure cohesive, joined-up approaches to tackle modern slavery and rough sleeping.
Recommendation 11. The police and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), soon to be the Gangmasters Labour and Abuse Authority (GLAA), need to provide and publicise clear points of contact to local homelessness organisations in order to make reporting (even if anonymously) more straightforward.
Recommendation 12. Clear guidance on victim identification and support, including referral routes to partner organisations, specifically targeting the needs of those within the homelessness sector, should be produced and publicised for homelessness organisations.