Referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
Last updated 14/07/2021
This section gives information for Competent Authority staff about how a potential victim of modern slavery is referred to them and what they must do when they receive a referral.
How does the Competent Authority receive a referral?
The UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) Competent Authority currently receives a referral from a first responder.
First responders are designated organisations which can refer potential victims of modern slavery in the UK into the NRM. First responders are:
- The Home Office
- Local authorities
- Health and Social Care Trusts (HSC Trusts)
- POPPY Project
- National Crime Agency (NCA)
- Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA)
- Migrant Help
- Gangmasters Licensing Agency
- Medaille Trust
- Salvation Army
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
- Unseen UK
- New Pathways
- Refugee Council
When a first responder suspects a person is a potential victim of modern slavery, they will contact the UKHTC, who will log the referral.
The UKHTC will either decide the case or, if the referral is for the Home Office, they will send it to the most appropriate Competent Authority within the Home Office to determine.
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The information on this page has been removed as it is restricted for internal Home Office use only.
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How does the Competent Authority acknowledge a referral?
The UKHTC and Home Office Competent Authority process for acknowledging a referral is set out below.
When staff at the UKHTC and Home Office Competent Authority receive the referral form they must:
1. Check the referral form has a signature for adults and check there is sufficient information on their case before sending the appropriate acknowledgement.
- if a potential victim is referred to the NRM but consent has not been obtained eg because a case was identified on the basis of papers rather than face-to-face at an interview or other encounter; a postal consent form can be used by the Competent Authority to obtain consent from the potential victim
- separate postal consents forms are to be used for:
- England and Wales
- Scotland and Northern Ireland
2. Check that the case has been entered on the Home Office database (CID) by the first responder (special conditions tab - special needs type – PVoT case) and if not then set this up [Home Office only].
3. Check that a barrier to removal has been raised on CID by the first responder and if not set this up [Home Office only].
4. Acknowledge they have received the referral form by sending an acknowledgement letter: NRM 01 Acknowledge Referral (ICD.4046 on CID Doc Gen). This acknowledgement letter should be sent to:
- the First Responder (unless it is the Asylum Intake Unit) [UKHTC and Home Office]
- the Salvation Army for cases in England and Wales where the adult has consented to support, Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) and Migrant Help in Scotland or Migrant Help or Women’s Aid in Northern Ireland, where the adult has consented to support and is a victim of human trafficking. [UKHTC and Home Office]
- copied to UKHTC by email (Email UKHTC NRM mailbox) [Home Office only]
5. Set up the RG case type with a start date consistent with that given by UKHTC. [Home Office only]
6. Record on CID the date the referral was received and when you despatched the acknowledgement. [Home Office only]
7. Make sure the responsible Local Authority is aware of a child referral from the first responder. [UKHTC and Home Office]
The duty to notify
From 1 November 2015, specified public authorities have a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any person encountered in England and Wales who they believe may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking.
Therefore certain frontline staff who encounter a potential victim of modern slavery are required to notify the Home Office under Section 52 of the Modern Slavery Act.
This requirement applies to the police, Local Authorities, the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.
UK Visas and Immigration, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement must also comply with the duty as a matter of Home Office policy.
It applies to potential victims identified in England and Wales only.
This duty is intended to help build a more comprehensive picture of the nature and scale of modern slavery.
For further information, please see the Duty to notify guidance, available on GOV.UK.
What does the duty to notify mean in practice?
There are 2 ways to satisfy the duty to notify depending on whether a case has been referred to the NRM or not:
1. Sending an NRM referral form to UKHTC
When you refer a potential victim to the NRM, you must send an NRM referral form to UKHTC at email address UKHTC and this will satisfy the duty to notify.
As children do not need to consent to enter the NRM you must always use this method to satisfy the duty to notify in cases involving children.
Once you have referred a case to the NRM in the normal way you do not need to send a copy of the form to the duty to notify mailbox.
2. Sending an MS1 form to a dedicated mailbox
You should not refer a potential victim of modern slavery to the NRM where an adult does not consent to the referral. In those cases you must complete an MS1 form and send it to the duty to notify mailbox to satisfy the duty to notify. The MS1 form should be completely anonymous if the potential victim does not consent to their details being shared.
A duty to notify referral should not be relied upon to safeguard victims. Existing safeguarding processes should still be followed in tandem with a notification.
Timescales for satisfying the duty to notify
If you are using the NRM Referral form you should send this to UKHTC as soon as practicable.
If you are sending the MS1 form to the duty to notify mailbox you should do this as soon as practicable. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, this should be within a month of encountering a victim.
Ensuring victims can access secure accommodation and support
Potential victims of human trafficking (ie those with a positive reasonable grounds decision) are entitled to 45 days supported recovery and reflection period. First responders and Competent Authority staff must ensure that this support is provided following a positive reasonable grounds decision. This provision is extended to all potential victims of modern slavery in England and Wales with a positive reasonable grounds decision. Support is provided to those who request it.
In most cases, this will be (where they are eligible) provided following a positive reasonable grounds decision, but in cases where an individual is destitute it may be provided from the day of referral.
Requests for support must be made:
- in England and Wales to:
- the Salvation Army through their 24 hour Referral Line: 0300 303 8151
- in Scotland:
- follow local arrangements with Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) 0141 276 7724 or Migrant Help 07837 937737 or 07789 791 110
- in Northern Ireland:
- for male potential victims of human trafficking, follow local arrangements with Migrant Help 013 0420 3977 or 07766 668 781
- for female potential victims of human trafficking contact Women’s Aid 028 9024 9041
For children, requests for support must always be made to the Local Authority children’s services at the earliest opportunity, i.e. by the first responder when making the referral to the NRM. For more information about contacting local authorities, see Local Authority children’s services.
In Northern Ireland, contact must always be made with the relevant Health and Social Care Trust Children’s Services.
The NHS Charging Regulations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland exempts victims and suspected victims of human trafficking from charges for specified NHS hospital treatment. The NHS Charging Regulations in England exempts victims and suspected victims of modern slavery (which includes human trafficking, as well as slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour) from charges for specified NHS hospital treatment.
Suspected victims are those to whom the Competent Authorities have issued a reasonable grounds decision. For more details of the provision in each part of the UK see:
Further details are in the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989 taking into account all other amending Regulations made since affecting Wales.
Spouses, civil partners and dependent children of those potential victims exempt under the above regulations may also be exempt from National Health Service (NHS) charges for hospital treatment in certain circumstances.
Some services or treatments are exempt from charges and available on the NHS to all people, including potential victims of trafficking or modern slavery, regardless of immigration status including:
- accident and emergency services (not including emergency treatment if admitted to hospital)
- family planning services (this does not include termination of pregnancy)
- treatment for most infectious diseases and sexually transmitted infections where specified
- (England only) treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence or sexual violence (this does not apply if the patient has come to the UK for the purpose of seeking that treatment). However, anyone that presents in such circumstances in Scotland would receive NHS treatment regardless of their ability to pay.
Potential victims of human trafficking across the UK are also entitled to:
- translation and interpretation services (when appropriate)
- counselling and information in a language they can understand (particularly regarding their legal rights and the services available to them),
- help to make sure their rights and interests are presented and considered at appropriate stages of criminal proceedings against offenders
- access to education for children
Potential victims who are not housed in specialist accommodation (including those housed by asylum support) must still be offered outreach support to make sure their entitlements are met under Article 12 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. The support providers listed above can again advise on these arrangements.