SEFTON SCP Safeguarding Policies and Procedures Online Manual

    7.1 Human Trafficking Guidance 2016

    Last updated 23/09/2021

    Victims of modern slavery – Competent Authority guidance

    Version 3.0

    About this guidance

    This guidance gives information for staff in Competent Authorities in the Home Office and UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) to help them decide whether a person referred under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a victim of modern slavery (including human trafficking) in England and Wales, or is a victim of trafficking in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It reflects relevant provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

    This guidance comes into effect on 21 March 2016 and will apply to all decisions made on or after that date.

    This guidance is to help staff in Competent Authorities:

    • decide whether a person is a victim of modern slavery because they are either:
      • a victim of human trafficking
      • a victim of slavery, servitude, or forced or compulsory labour (identified in England or Wales)
    • ensure victims’ rights are protected
    • co-operate with partners in the NRM (for example, the police, local authorities, National Crime Agency and non-governmental organisations)

    This guidance in respect of trafficking references is based on the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (the Convention), which focuses on:

    • protecting victims of trafficking and safeguarding their rights
    • preventing trafficking
    • promoting international co-operation on trafficking
    • prosecuting traffickers

    To find out more about this treaty see the Council of Europe Convention on action against trafficking in human beings.

    The Convention requires the UK to take a victim-centred approach to tackling all types of trafficking. Human trafficking is a criminal offence and may be linked to organised crime. One of the primary principles of the UK’s approach to tackling human trafficking is to provide services to help victims recover and access justice.

    As part of implementing the Convention, the government created the national Referral Mechanism (NRM) in 2009.


    If you have any questions about the guidance and your line manager or senior caseworker cannot help you or you think that the guidance has factual errors then email Asylum strategy and trafficking team at Asylum Policy.

    If you notice any formatting errors in this guidance (broken links, spelling mistakes and so on) or have any comments about the layout or navigability of the guidance then you can email Guidance – making changes.


    Below is information on when this version of the guidance was cleared:

    • version 3.0
    • published for Home Office staff and other competent authority staff on 21 March 2016

    Official – sensitive: start of section

    • The information on this page has been removed as it is restricted for internal Home Office use only.

    Official – sensitive: end of section

    Changes from last version of this guidance

    • updated references on Scottish legislation
    • added references to three additional first responders
    • added a link to guidance on keeping records for criminal investigations
    • added guidance on illegal adoption
    • added guidance on withdrawing from the NRM
    • added references to Immigration Rule relating to Overseas Domestic Workers who are victims of modern slavery
    • updated references to the NRM pilot
    • amended the guidance on using a second pair of eyes
    • updated guidance on police referrals
    • added references to the duty to notify
    • updated guidance on reconsiderations
    • clarification that a victim may be asked to account for inconsistencies in writing
    • added guidance on disclosure of updated referral forms
    • updated guidance on discretionary leave including fee policy
    • added guidance on obtaining postal consent
    • added references to the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006
    • added guidance on unaccompanied children
    • amended guidance on the content of positive reasonable grounds letters
    • clarification that the competent authority should ask the police to notify the CPS of NRM decisions
    • updated references to the NHS regulations

    This version of the guidance comes into effect on 21 March 2016 and will apply to all decisions made on or after that date.