Best practise when working with survivors

Best practise when working with survivors

Professionals of all disciplines who work with survivors of trafficking and modern slavery should adopt and incorporate the following minimum professional standards into all aspects of their work:

  • Accessibility and non-discrimination: making sure that survivors are treated fairly and with dignity. Service provision should be diverse, inclusive and flexible to meet the various requirements of each person.

  • Human rights-based approach: support should never be contingent upon a survivors’ ability or willingness to cooperate with the authorities.

  • Holistic and victim centred approach: survivors must be placed at the centre of any decision- making process and support must be prioritised in accordance with their individual needs.

  • Empowering approach: recognise that survivors are individuals with goals, dreams, and aspirations, provide support in a way that recognises individual strength, resourcefulness, and resilience as well as vulnerabilities and difficulties.

  • Freedom of thought, religion, and belief: signpost to pastoral care or religious support if requested.

  • Multi agency approach

  • Professional boundaries

  • Safe working approach

  • Trauma-informed approach

  • A Safe, Calm, Consistent Environment and Approach

The Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards (2018)

When talking to survivors to gather information about their experience to put on their NRM form, first responders should:

  • Explain the identity, role and duties of all professionals in the room.

  • Demonstrate interest in survivors’ immediate safety, health and practical needs.

  • Tell survivors that they have time to be heard. Create an illusion of time even if you are busy and in a rush.

  • Maintain focus on the ‘Here and Now’ – minimize any distress by referring to the ‘Here and Now’, focus on current and future safety needs.

  • Use and record survivor’s names appropriately.

  • Understand survivors’ presentation, remaining calm, consistent, and welcoming.

  • Ensure that consent is informed and given freely.

  • Set realistic goals and objectives.

  • Ensure breaks are offered and taken - movement is helpful. Do not leave survivors by themselves.

  • Never victim blame – for example, “why did you not leave your exploiters?” “if you had an opportunity to leave, why didn’t you?”.

  • Ensure that you use the correct tone of voice, remaining empathetic, considering appropriate body language and cultural sensitivity at all times.

The Slavery and Trafficking Survivor Care Standards (2018)

It is possible that survivors of modern slavery will be reluctant to tell you their story. You should consider the possible reasons for this when faced with this situation:

  • Survivors may fear being re-trafficked.

  • Survivors may fear that they will not be believed – perpetrators may have convinced survivors that they have influence within the police service or government agencies.

  • Survivors may fear that the potentially illegal activities in which they were involved through coercion will be discovered.

  • Survivors may not know that agencies and authorities are able to help.

  • Survivors may have fear resulting from belief in spiritual practices, e.g., black magic, witchcraft and juju.

  • Survivors may accept their current situation as it is more favourable than their home circumstances.

  • Survivors may fear that once they give evidence, they will not be paid for their work.

  • Survivor may have feelings of empathy and attachment to their traffickers (Stockholm Syndrome).

  • Survivors may fear that first responders will discriminate against them based on their cultural/ethnic/religious communities or families

  • Survivors may have feelings of shame or guilt about the traumatic and humiliating nature of the abuse they may have experienced.

  • Survivors may also be experiencing trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can result in symptoms of hostility, aggression, difficulty in recalling details or entire episodes, and difficulty in concentrating.

College of Policing: Authorised Professional Practice (2020)

As a first responder you should aim to settle these fears in survivors by reassuring survivors that your role is to help and understand them. You should never push or pressure a survivor to answer a question on an NRM form.