Report modern slavery as a first responder

How you can report cases of modern slavery in the UK if you’re a first responder.

First responders can use the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to:

  • report cases of modern slavery
  • refer potential victims for support and protection

The government assesses every new NRM case to determine if the person has been a victim of modern slavery.

Who are first responders?

First responders work for designated organisations and help identify and support potential victims of modern slavery.

You can still report modern slavery if you’re not a first responder. Call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or report it online.

If you’re unsure, you should check what the referral pathway is in your organisation.

How to report modern slavery


You’ll need to complete the online referral form which allows you to save and return to it if you are unable to complete it in one go.

If you won’t have access to a computer when you interview a potential victim, you can print the NRM prompt sheet.

The prompt sheet highlights the questions you must ask and explains the type of information a report needs. You can then complete the online form at a later stage using your notes from the prompt sheet.


The online service is new and currently in ‘beta’. This means we’re still improving it and we would welcome your feedback. You can get in touch with us by emailing

Making a report

Referring a potential victim can give them access to support, such as counselling, legal advice and housing.

You can request emergency housing and medical care immediately. Other benefits will only be given once their status as a potential victim has been confirmed.

All potential victims in the UK are entitled to support.

What support is available.

Potential child victims

If you think the potential victim is under 18, you must always refer them to the NRM.

You will first need to complete a child welfare services form and send it to the relevant local authority.

If the child is in an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) area you will also need to refer them to the Barnardo’s ICTG service.

Once the local authority knows about the potential child victim, you can start their NRM referral. The local authority will receive a notification once you complete it.

What happens next

This depends on whether the potential victim is a child or an adult.

If they are a child, you must refer their case to the NRM – only potential adult victims can choose whether to refer their case.

If they are an adult, you will need to explain what happens if they want you to refer their case and what happens if they don’t.

If a potential victim wants you to refer their case

By referring their case, the potential victim will get access to support and a formal decision.

To help make a formal decision, their personal information is shared with organisations such as the police and Home Office.

Decisions are made in two stages:

  • Stage 1 - Reasonable Grounds (RG) decision
  • Stage 2 - Conclusive Grounds (CG) decision

Stage 1

A caseworker will look at the potential victim’s case within 5 working days, whenever possible, and decide if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are a victim.

Cases that do not meet the criteria will be closed at this stage unless there’s a request for a reconsideration. No further accommodation or support will be available through the NRM.

Stage 2

If there are reasonable grounds, the case will be investigated in more detail before deciding if there are conclusive grounds.

A conclusive grounds decision will not be made until after 45 calendar days. This is to allow the potential victim a period of recovery. They are eligible for support through the NRM during this time.

If conclusive grounds decision is positive

The potential victim will receive support for a further 45 calendar days so they can transition into other services.

If the conclusive grounds decision is negative

The potential victim will receive support for 9 working days after the decision.

Ask for a reconsideration

A reconsideration can be requested at any time if:

  • more information about the case becomes available
  • there are concerns about the original decision

A reconsideration will only happen if there are grounds for one.

If a potential victim does not want you to refer their case

The potential victim will not receive support through the NRM or get a formal decision.

You will still need to complete the online referral form but choosing the option to indicate the Potential Victim has not consented to referral into the NRM.

Designated organisations in England and Wales have a Duty to Notify (DtN) the Home Office when they encounter a potential victim of modern slavery.

A DtN is also sent to the police to help them:

  • investigate the exploiters
  • understand how and where modern slavery is happening

You can only raise a DtN in England and Wales – it is not available in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The potential victim’s personal information will not be shared with anyone, unless they agree to let the police contact them.

If you have any safeguarding concerns about the potential victim you must contact the police immediately.

Contact us


Telephone: 0207 035 5689

Published 28 May 2019
Last updated 16 November 2020 + show all updates
  1. Contact information updated.

  2. Updated content on asking for reconsideration.

  3. Updated information for release of online form to all first responders.

  4. Updated guidance information. Added link to form MS1.

  5. First published.