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Secretary of State for Justice agrees to promulgate operational guidance to identify and support victims and potential victims of trafficking in prison

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Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

The Secretary of State for Justice has agreed to develop operational guidance to identify and support potential victims of trafficking in prison in response to a claim for judicial review. He has agreed that such operational guidance will include provision for:

(i) notification of reasonable or conclusive grounds decisions to keyworkers in prison
(ii) communication of such decisions to prison staff
(iii) communication of such decisions to partner agencies before a potential or confirmed victim of trafficking is released from prison
(iv) guidance on bail applications made by potential or confirmed victims of trafficking in prison
(v) a specific assessment of the modern day slavery needs of any prisoner who has a positive reasonable or conclusive grounds decision

The Secretary of State has also agreed to consider whether HMPPS should be designated a first responder for the purposes of the National Referral Mechanism.

The Secretary of State has agreed to use his best endeavours to publish the guidance by 31 October 2022.

The agreement follows two joined judicial review claims brought by QW (a victim of trafficking by means of forced criminality) and the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (‘ATLEU’). The claimants argued that the Secretary of State’s failure to make arrangements for potential victims of trafficking in prisons was (i) discrimination contrary to Article 14 of the ECHR, (ii) irrational (iii) in breach of the relevant Statutory Guidance and (iv) contrary to the systems duty under Article 4 of the ECHR.

The judicial review was due to be heard on 7th – 8th July. The claim was compromised on 7th July 2022 following the Secretary of State’s agreement to reform the system under challenge.

Chris Buttler QC and Katy Sheridan, with Marisa Cohen from Doughty Street Chambers, represented QW (instructed by ATLEU) and ATLEU (instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP).

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