Many victims of human trafficking are being failed by defence teams, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) warned this week. All have ignored clear law in numerous prosecutions, it alleges.
The commission says there are numerous cases where inadequate defence advice combined with poor attention to trafficking issues by the police and Crown Prosecution Service created a potential miscarriage.
‘There may be dozens of cases, or many, many more, where the "non-prosecution" principle should have been applied,’ 1 Pump Court’s Parosha Chandran (pictured), an authority on human trafficking who backed the claim, said.
She pointed out that victims of human trafficking should be removed from the criminal justice system.
Faults arise when people in contact with the victim fail to recognise that criminal offences are linked to the victim’s trafficked status. In these cases, Chandran said, those involved failed in their ‘moral and legal duty, and in their ethical and professional responsibilities’.
The warning follows confirmation from the government’s inter-departmental group on human trafficking that the number of potential trafficking victims is rising. Last year 946 people were referred to the national referral mechanism (NRM), compared with 710 in 2010. In 2011, 234 of those referred were children, up from 186 the year before.
The CCRC has been examining miscarriages involving trafficking victims since the case of trafficked minor T, which it referred to appeal in 2011. T’s conviction was quashed.
Alluding to concerns arising from the case, CCRC barrister Yewa Holiday told the Gazette: ‘If the CPS had applied its mind conscientiously to the question of public policy and reached an informed decision… it might well have exercised its discretion in the public interest not to prosecute.’