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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/human-trafficking-victims-referral-and-assessment-forms/national-referral-mechanism-guidance-adult-northern-ireland-and-scotland
This is guidance for all potential adult cases of human trafficking identified across Scotland and Northern Ireland.
For England and Wales cases please see separate guidance and forms.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.
This guidance is to assist designated first responders in completing the referral form before it is submitted for consideration by the relevant competent authority within the Home Office.
Referral forms should be sent using the online process, explained below.
2. Definition of modern slavery
Modern slavery encompasses:
- human trafficking
- slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour
An individual could have been a victim of human trafficking and/or slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.
For a person to have been a victim of human trafficking there must have been:
- action (recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt, which can include either domestic or cross-border movement)
- means (threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability - however, there does not need to be a means used for children as they are not able to give informed consent)
- purpose of exploitation (for example, sexual exploitation, forced labour or domestic servitude, slavery, financial exploitation, illegal adoption, removal of organs)
For a person to have been a victim of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour there must have been:
- means (being held, either physically or through threat of penalty – for example threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability. However, there does not need to be a means used for children as they are not able to give informed consent)
- service (an individual provides a service for benefit, for example begging, sexual services, manual labour, domestic service)
Forced or compulsory labour may be present in trafficking cases. However, not every person who is exploited through forced labour has been trafficked.
There will be cases of exploitation that do not meet the threshold for modern slavery – for example, someone may choose to work for less than the national minimum wage or in undesirable conditions, without being forced or deceived. These cases should not be referred to the NRM, but you may want to refer to the police. Alternatively, you can contact the pay and work rights helpline for more information on 0300 123 1100, or the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority on 0800 432 0804.
Slavery and servitude are more serious versions of forced or compulsory labour. More information is available on the indicators of modern slavery.
3. Referring cases to the NRM
Modern slavery is a complex crime and may involve multiple forms of exploitation. Victims may not be aware that they are being trafficked or exploited, and may have consented to elements of their exploitation, or accepted their situation. If you think that modern slavery has taken place, the case should be referred to the NRM so that the relevant competent authority can fully consider the case. You don’t need to be certain that someone is a victim.
If you think you have encountered a person (adult or child) in Scotland or Northern Ireland who has been a victim of modern slavery, you should complete a referral via the online process.
The online process allows first responders to submit an NRM referral through a single online form regardless of their location in the UK, or whether the victim is an adult or child. The form has been designed to be responsive and will change depending on the options selected. Access the form.
The online form will identify whether someone is a first responder by verifying their work email address. First responders will need to complete this verification to progress with the form.
After submitting the form (which will be sent to the relevant competent authority) the first responder will be sent a link to download a copy. Once it’s been received by the competent authority it will be assigned a reference number which will be emailed across to the first responder. If any further information becomes available at a later date that would be helpful in making a decision about whether the person is a victim of modern slavery the first responder can email this, by responding to the referral receipt email without editing the reference number in the subject line.
The old referral forms will continue to be accepted under exceptional circumstances. If you think this will be a problem or if you want to provide any feedback on the online referral process, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adults will only be accepted into the NRM if they have consented to the referral being made. Informed consent requires that the potential victim have the NRM, the referral process, and potential outcomes, clearly explained to them.
Once a referral is submitted, the relevant competent authority will then aim to make a reasonable grounds decision within 5 working days wherever possible.
4. First responder organisations
A first responder organisation is an authority that is authorised to refer a potential victim of modern slavery into the National Referral Mechanism. Current first responder organisations in Scotland and Northern Ireland are:
- police forces
- certain parts of the Home Office:
- UK Visas and Immigration
- Border Force
- Immigration Enforcement
- Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
- local authorities (Scotland)
- health and social care trusts (Northern Ireland)
- Salvation Army (Scotland)
- Migrant Help (Scotland)
- Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) (Scotland)
- Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid (Northern Ireland)
- Independent Child Guardian Service (Barnardo’s) (Northern Ireland)
5. Access to support
Individuals who are recognised as a potential victim of modern slavery through the NRM have access to specialist tailored support, which may include access to advice, accommodation, protection and independent emotional and practical help.
In Northern Ireland individuals will receive support for at least 45 days while their case is considered. In Scotland, individuals will receive support for 90 days or until a Conclusive Grounds decision is made, whichever comes sooner; however, in some cases support may be offered beyond the 90 days if a Conclusive Grounds decision has not yet been made.
Support in Scotland is provided by the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) or Migrant Helpline, and Migrant Helpline or Women’s Aid in Northern Ireland. Support providers will assess each potential victim to determine what support is most appropriate.
First responders must explain this process to the potential victim and seek their consent before filling out the NRM form. If they consent to being referred as the first responder you will be asked to confirm this, and also indicate if they wish to access support, and you should then contact:
- Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) (female victims of sexual exploitation) 0141 276 7730 (working hours) and 0141 276 7724 (out of hours)
- Migrant Help (male and female victims) 0141 884 7900 (working hours) and 0141 212 8553 (out of hours) Scotland@migranthelpuk.org
- Migrant Help (male victims of labour exploitation; female victims of labour exploitation can also be assisted if accompanying their male partner who is a victim of labour exploitation) 02890 315744 (working hours) or 02892 448449 (out of hours) email@example.com
- Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid (female victims of any exploitation) 028 902662385 firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Completing the form
The online form should only be completed for individuals when a member of staff from a designated frontline organisation (known as a first responder) suspects someone is a victim of modern slavery and where the individual concerned has understood the implications of, and consented to, a referral. It is for use by all such agencies to record their encounters with potential victims of modern slavery.
It is not to be used as an interview record but as a means for a first responder to provide as much information as possible to the relevant competent authority to enable a decision to be reached.
This does not prevent the first responder from approaching the potential victim to obtain further details where appropriate, while avoiding placing the potential victim under unnecessary additional stress or trauma.
Throughout the form, items marked with an asterisk should be supported by documentary evidence where possible.
Consent is required for an adult to be referred to the NRM. For an adult to provide their informed consent, you must explain:
- what the NRM is
- what support is available through it
- what the possible outcomes are for an individual being referred
You should also make it clear that information may be shared or sought by the relevant competent authority from other public authorities, such as the police and local authorities, to gather further evidence on an NRM referral.
If the potential victim is under 18, or may be under 18, you should complete the online referral but select the child option. Child victims do not have to consent to be referred into the NRM and should also be referred to wider child safeguarding processes for support.
8. Referring cases to the police
If an adult does not consent to the NRM referral, it will not be accepted by the relevant competent authority. However, if you consider a crime has taken place then you can still make a third-party referral to the police, so that they can be considered for investigation as a means to protect others from harm. Any information you have gathered on the cases should be provided to the police to assist.
Where a police referral has not been made by the first responder, this may also be done by the relevant competent authority.
9. Indicators of modern slavery
To help make a primary assessment about whether an individual is or may be a potential victim of modern slavery, there are 20 general indicators. These indicators are not a definitive list and there may be other indicators that may raise concerns, therefore the option to highlight ‘other’ indicators has been included.
It is not the case that by selecting a set number of indicators this will equate to a person being a victim; it could be that just one or a combination of factors demonstrates that a person may be a victim. Each case should be considered on its own merits. There are also sections for indicators of common forms of exploitation, however if you consider that an individual may have been exploited in a way not listed, this could still be modern slavery and should be recorded.
We recognise that first responders may be unable to provide significant detail about the individual and their potential modern slavery experience on this form (e.g. where an individual is seriously traumatised). However, it is important that all information available at this stage is provided on the form to support a timely reasonable grounds decision.
If further information about the case comes to light, this should be referred to the relevant competent authority via responding to the referral receipt email without editing the reference number in the subject line or if that is not available: