Trafficking survivors have died before receiving a single penny of compensation because of the length of time it takes to successfully get through the government’s compensation scheme, according to new research with revealed that half of survivors waited for up to three years. A new report from the charity Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU) drawing on 30 cases and incorporating a survey of professionals working with survivors found that almost nine out of 10 respondents (88%) had experience of survivors giving up due to the length of time taken to deal with their application.
ATLEU argues that CICA fails to understand the nature of the crimes of trafficking and modern slavery or how these crimes affect traumatised survivors and that failure is ‘compounded by poor data collection’ which means that the authority has little information about the number of survivors who have tried to access the scheme.
‘Applications to CICA are generally made by survivors who are unable to identify their trafficker, where the trafficker has no significant assets, or where the survivor is unable to face their trafficker in court,’ commented ATLEU solicitor Jamila Duncan-Bosu. ‘Compensation is vital to helping survivors escape the poverty that places them at much greater risk of further harm and re-trafficking. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as it currently operates is failing survivors by regularly denying them the compensation that they are entitled to.’
Six out of 10 respondents had experience of survivors being refused compensation on the basis that they had not suffered a crime of violence and six out of 10 had experience of applications to Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) being refused on the basis that the survivor had not reported to the police as soon as reasonably practicable. Almost half of survey respondents (47%) had experience of trafficking survivors waiting two to three years for CICA to determine their applications and award compensation and 5% of respondents reported delays of four years or more.
ATLEU cite the example of Esio sold for £200 to a criminal gang. ‘For five years he was exploited and forced to live in cramped, squalid conditions with 25 other trafficked men before being dumped on the street,’ the group says. He was refused compensation by CICA on the basis there was no evidence he had suffered a crime of violence. ‘This was despite the fact the UK government had formally identified him as a victim of trafficking and that Esio had told CICA he had feared the gang would harm him, which should have been considered a crime of violence,’ th group adds. Esio died four days before his appeal was due to be heard by the First–tier Tribunal, after waiting three years for a decision from CICA.
The case of A and B v CICA was heard in the Supreme Court last week in which survivors with unspent convictions were prevented from receiving compensation. ATLEU intervened in the case arguing that victims who have been compelled to commit criminal acts by their traffickers should not be refused compensation.