If you work in a statutory agency you may come into contact with potential victims of modern slavery. If you do, you have certain responsibilities to ensure that you are fulfilling your statutory safeguarding and welfare duties.
Duty to notify
Section 52 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduced a statutory duty to notify provision. From 1 November 2015, certain public authorities (Police, Local Authorities, Gangmasters Licensing Authority) are required to notify the Home Office about any potential victims of modern slavery they may encounter in England and Wales. The duty to notify requirement can be satisfied through a referral to the National Referral Mechanism as long as all of the required sections are completed. This may be completed anonymously where the potential victim does not consent to their details being shared.
If a potential victim does not want to be referred to the NRM, then an MS1 form should be completed and sent to email@example.com. The MS1 form is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/508818/Duty_to_Notify__MS1__Form__Version_2.0_.PDF.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
The NRM is the UK Government’s process for identifying and supporting potential victims of modern slavery. It has been in operation since 2010 and is led by the National Crime Agency.
Potential victims of modern slavery can only be referred into the NRM by a designated organisation or agency called a First Responder. When a referral is made into the NRM the referral is passed to a decision maker known as a Competent Authority (CA). The CA will make two decisions on each referral. The first is a reasonable grounds decision and is usually made within five days of receipt of the referral. The RG decision is a low threshold decision based on 'I suspect but cannot prove'. If the RG decision is positive the person will be given access to government-funded help and support for a minimum period of 45 days. A second decision, known as a conclusive grounds decision, is made some time after the 45-day period has ended.
The Competent Authorities currently authorised to make decisions on modern slavery cases are the UK Human Trafficking Centre and UK Visas and Immigration.
In August 2015, the Government set up a pilot to test the effectiveness of the NRM process for victims. The pilot is currently running in the South West region and West Yorkshire police force area.In the West Yorkshire police force area and the South West (Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire police force areas), NRM forms can be completed by any frontline worker. Once completed, the referral form is sent to a designated local slavery and safeguarding lead (SSL) for a reasonable grounds decision and entry to the NRM (where the decision is positive). This process should happen on the same day as referral.
A list of organisations and agencies who are designated first responders:
UK Border Force
Home Office Immigration and Visas
National Crime Agency
Gangmasters Licensing Authority
Health and Social Care Trusts (Northern Ireland)
TARA Project (Scotland)
The first responder will complete a referral form and pass to the Competent Authority (CA) who will make an initial decision as to whether the individual is likely to be a victim (this is based on a low threshold). Referral to a CA is voluntary and can happen only if the potential victim gives their permission by signing the referral form. In the case of children their consent is not required. To download an adult or child referral form go to the gov.uk website.
All completed NRM forms are sent to the UKHTC in the first instance. The UKHTC will then determine which CA will deal with the case and will forward the papers if needed.
Completed forms should be sent to the UKHTC Competent Authority via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 0870 496 5534