Organisations that support victims have said that 12 months of support and permission to be in the UK is the minimum length of time victims need to give them a stable foundation for recovery.
It can take significant time for victims to feel safe enough to begin to process their traumatic experiences through counselling or to engage with police investigations. Often this can only happen once the immediate crisis is over, when they have been formally recognised as a victim and know that they have a significant period of time ahead during which housing, money for essentials and the right to be in the country will be secure.
For victims who have lower mental or physical health needs, they need time to gain skills, experience and confidence that will enable them to live a full and integrated life in society, whether in the UK or in their home country. This might involve language skills, education or training for employment, or rehabilitation through decent work and work experience. A programme run by the Coop supermarket has demonstrated the value of work experience alongside specialist support in helping victims recover from exploitation.
Without 12 months leave to remain in the UK, many victims do not have this stability and cannot begin that process of recovery.
But all victims are different with some needing more support than others. Lord McColl’s Bill ensures the help and services provided will be tailored to the needs of each individual victim helping them on a road to independence after 12 months, and if a victim doesn’t want to take up the support or opportunity to stay in the UK, then they are of course free not to.