Victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in Leeds will be offered more support from an expert service.
Leeds City Council is paying the Home Office-contracted, Headingley-based Palm Cove Society £85,000 of a £196,000 government grant to develop ways of helping people who have suffered from such crimes.
A council report reveals that around 140 people in Leeds are identified as victims of modern slavery and human trafficking every year through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), and once formal support finishes through that process 47 per cent are repatriated – but “of those remaining in the UK little is known”.
The grant will allow support for people after they have been referred to the NRM and following a decision that deems them as a potential slavery victim. The report reads that after 14 days from then, such victims “are often ‘lost’ within communities with no support”.
“This can result in increased social issues, community tensions and can also mean that there are difficulties in building organised crime cases and tracing witnesses when prosecuting perpetrators of modern slavery and human trafficking,” it says.
As well as supporting the victims with benefits, bank accounts, helping them to access health options, community networks and job opportunities, the service will aim to increase victims’ trust in the legal system and police. It is hoped that through this “there will be more likelihood of enabling prosecutions,” the report says.
Support lasts for a minimum of three months, while the contract, which begins tomorrow, is to last until March next year.