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James's story

26 October 2017

Case study of a victim of human trafficking who came to the AIRE Centre for legal advice.

James* is a recognised victim of human trafficking who was referred to the AIRE Centre for assistance in preparing his application for permanent residence status in the UK. He was trafficked into the country in 2010 by his uncle, who told him that he would be able to earn more in the UK than he had been digging wells in Slovakia.

When James arrived, his uncle took his ID card and passport, and over the next five years forced him to work six days a week as a kitchen porter in various restaurants in the wider Yorkshire area, taking all his wages, and only occasionally giving him £10-£20 to buy food and cigarettes. James was forced to share a room in his uncle’s home in Bradford with other male trafficking victims from Slovakia who his uncle would refer to as his “horses”.

Each day, James would be picked up and driven to and from work, and was never allowed out of the house on his own. When he would complain about his situation or try to keep some of his wages, his uncle would abuse him verbally and sometimes physically, threatening him with a knife or saying that his employers at the restaurant would kill him if he tried to leave. During this period, James had a daughter who went into adoption.

After living at his uncle’s house for three years, James left and moved into private accommodation in the local area, while continuing to pay his wages to his uncle.

In December 2015, facing destitution and homelessness, James presented himself at Hope Housing Bradford and was referred by Hope for Justice under the National Referral Mechanism as a potential victim of trafficking. Over the next year-and-a-half, James was granted residence at safehouses in Manchester and Birmingham while waiting to be served his Conclusive Grounds (CG) decision. In May 2017, he was informed of a positive recognition of his trafficked status at the same time as a negative decision on his Discretionary Leave to Remain (DLR).

No longer entitled to safehouse accommodation, in June 2017 James moved in with his girlfriend who he met in a park, and who proceeded to subject him to domestic abuse. Based on this situation of domestic abuse, as well as concerns raised that he was suffering from dependence syndrome and paranoid schizophrenia, James was granted interim accommodation by Birmingham City Council in August 2017. Shortly after, and despite expressing willingness to reconsider the decision to not grant DLR, the Secretary of State for the Home Department issued a liability to deportation order based on criminal convictions James had received more than fifteen years prior in Slovakia, despite having no criminal record in the UK since his arrival. While the order has since been quashed and DLR has been granted for the period of one year, James continues to struggle to prove that he is a ‘qualified person’ under the 2016 EEA Regulations and therefore eligible for housing support, and has no future guarantees that he will be allowed to remain in the country and will not sent back to the family in Slovakia who originally trafficked him.

 

*Our client’s name has been changed to protect their identity.

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