Consulting with and sharing information with the police during the NRM process
Last updated 14/07/2021
A potential victim of modern slavery is a potential victim of a crime. All cases should be referred to the police - either on the victim’s behalf where they consent, or as a third party referral where they do not.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 contains 2 main modern slavery offences punishable by up to life imprisonment:
- slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour
- human trafficking
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 also established new offences of human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, punishable by up to life imprisonment.
Staff in the Competent Authority must refer all allegations to either:
- the local police force where the alleged exploitation took place
- the National Human Trafficking Unit (in Scotland)
- a Home Office criminal and financial investigations team (which includes seconded police officers) as appropriate
All cases referred to the Competent Authority must be referred to the police by the Competent Authority taking the reasonable grounds decision where a referral to police has not already taken place.
In cases where there is an immediate threat to the potential victim a referral to the police should already have been made by the first responder/frontline worker.Where this has not happened and the Competent Authority considers there is an immediate threat to the potential victim, the Competent Authority must refer a case to the police as soon as the information is known to the Home Office or UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC). Where there is not an immediate threat, the case should be referred to the police by the Competent Authority following the Reasonable Grounds decision. The referral to the police should include the outcome of the Reasonable Grounds decision, the minute/reasons for the decision and the NRM referral form.
Where a positive Reasonable Grounds decision has been made, the police must record the case as a crime and a crime reference number must be shared with the Competent Authority to add to the case file. When providing the crime reference number to the Competent Authority the police should, wherever possible, indicate if an investigation is underway or likely to be undertaken. This will help to inform the Competent Authority of any evidence that may support the conclusive grounds decision or a consideration of discretionary leave.
Where a negative Reasonable Grounds decision is made it is at the discretion of the police whether there is evidence of an alternative crime that warrants recording and any subsequent investigation.
When making a referral to the police the Competent Authority should send the information to the police force where they think the exploitation took place. If they do not know where the exploitation occurred or if the exploitation occurred overseas, the case should be referred to the police force in the area where the victim currently lives (or where they were encountered if their residence is unknown).
When sharing information with the police, the Competent Authority should be aware that:
- potential victims are under no obligation to cooperate with the police themselves and some potential victims may not want the police to be involved at all
- in some cases there may be few details provided but it is not for the Competent Authority to seek to filter the cases which are likely or unlikely to be of interest to the police – the police will decide which cases they wish to investigate and as such all cases must be referred to allow the police to make that assessment
- in some cases the police may not pursue a case unless the individual engages with them directly – it is not for staff in the Competent Authority to press the police to pursue a criminal investigation or convince the potential victim to cooperate, however, staff in the Competent Authority must note the outcome of the referral to the police on the file
- it may also be helpful to discuss a case with the police to gather any additional information to help with the conclusive grounds decision
All NRM cases should be referred to the police – either on the victim’s behalf where they consent to this information being provided to the police, or as a third party referral where they do not, provided this can be done in a way which is compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998 and does not breach any duty of confidentiality owed to the victim under the common law.
Once received, the Competent Authority is entitled to process information in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and where appropriate refer this information to the police to support the detection and prevention of crime. The Competent Authority does not require consent from the victim to do so. The intention is to do this in all cases referred into the NRM where there has not already been a police referral.
Any information staff at the Competent Authority disclose must be in accordance with the law, in particular the Data Protection Act (1998).