Charity Awards 2024

Justice & Care

Supporting survivors of modern slavery in the UK

Justice & Care had years of experience working with survivors of modern slavery in Bangladesh and India.

The charity assessed contemporary data on the prevalence of modern slavery in the UK, its characteristics, existing support, prevention systems and challenges.

Justice & CareIt found poor support systems for survivors of modern slavery in the UK, which made it harder for them to overcome fear and trauma sufficiently to engage with police. This made it easier for exploiters to evade justice and increased the risk of survivors being re-trafficked.

Working with the anti-slavery partnership coordinator for the Essex and Kent Police, Justice & Care began to design its Victim Navigator Programme.

During the 18-month design phase, victim consultation highlighted the need for a non-police, victim-focused presence in the criminal justice system.

The “navigator” role was designed to work within police structures; being a friendly, supportive and caring service for survivors while they interact in the criminal justice system and allowing survivors access to specialist support from the earliest possible moment in their recovery journey, sometimes during police operations.

The first two navigators were embedded with Kent and Surrey police in 2018. By the end of the pilot phase in 2022, navigators were introduced in Essex, Greater Manchester, Scotland, West Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.

From the programme launch in 2019 to January 2024, 127 survivors had been engaged by navigators and supported to leave their exploitation.

Some 540 survivors had been supported with holistic care plans that include direct emotional support from the navigator and support to access accommodation, financial support, legal advice, mental health services, education and employment.

And 71% of survivors had accessed services relevant to their needs, including counselling, accommodation, medical care, and employment support, with other needs in the process of being met.

Based on Justice & Care’s in-depth recovery assessment that analyses social connections, sense of safety, economic stability, wellbeing and mental health, 81% of survivors reported improvements in recovery.

More than nine in 10 of the survivors supported by a navigator have engaged with police on some level, ranging from speaking to police to supporting prosecutions.

In cases supported by navigators, 179 exploiters have been arrested and 43 convicted.

Charity Awards judge Jehangir Malik said: “Justice & Care is the only NGO working from within police structures to support modern slavery survivors in the UK. The introduction of holistic support from a specialist navigator ensures the criminal justice process works in tandem with the long-term recovery of survivors. Justice is also a vital tool for stopping modern slavery long term, as it disrupts the business model and identifies victims still hidden in exploitation.”

CC Reg no. 1133829