Submitting a referral to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for a child
What is the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)?
The National Referral Mechanism is the national framework for identifying and referring victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. The Single Competent Authority (SCA) administers it, which is part of the Home Office.
What is a ‘First Responder?’
The people who can make a referral to the NRM are known as ‘first responders’. Within the NRM, a number of organisations and public bodies are designated as ‘first responders’. The Police and Local Authorities are both designated as first responders.
When do I notify the Home Office?
If you have ‘a reasonable cause to believe that you may have encountered a victim of Modern Slavery’ then you must notify the Home Office.
There are two elements to consider:
- The fact at you may have encountered a victim of Modern Slavery is a LOW threshold. You do not need to know, believe or have any evidence, suspicion alone will suffice.
- Modern Slavery is a serious crime and victims are likely to suffer or have suffered significant harm. The information in the notification to the Home Office should therefore reflect the gravity of these concerns.
How do I notify the Home Office?
All referrals must be submitted online. This should be used for ALL children (under 18).
NB. You will only have 1hr to submit the referral, so it is useful to have all the information you need before you start.
How do I complete an NRM referral?
An NRM referral is the starting point of an investigation of a serious criminal offence by the Police. Time and care should be taken when completing.
- the definition of Modern Slavery and Know Human Trafficking as per the ‘Palermo Protocol’ below. It is this definition that the SCA use to determine whether a child is a victim or not.
- Remember a child cannot consent to their own exploitation, so we do not need to show that a child has been forced, threatened or coerced etc.
- Introduce the child, provide the background of any local context e.g. Looked After Child, known to smoke cannabis, previous arrests for shoplifting, regular truant etc. Setting the scene may highlight vulnerabilities and key indicators of exploitation.
- Clearly articulate your suspicions. Remember the NRM is about identifying victims of exploitation. If there are gaps in your knowledge, consider whether you need more information before submitting.
- Provide rationale to support your concerns. What information do you think that makes you consider the individual is being exploited? Consider: indicators of exploitation, Police/partnership information, disclosures from the child or 3rd parties; circumstances of any arrests.
- Copy and paste any other documents or assessments onto the referral form. The NRM should be a bespoke referral.
- Anonymise or substitute names within the NRM referrals. This just makes them harder to read. All NRM referrals are passed to the Police for investigation purposes so names, addresses etc. are required.
- Submit an NRM referral following the arrest of an individual if you concerns centre upon the circumstances that led to the individuals arrest in the first place, without speaking to the Officer in the Case in the first instance.
What happens after I’ve submitted the notification?
Once the online notification is submitted to the SCA for assessment, a link will be sent to the submitting individual to allow him/her to download a copy of the notification. The individual will also receive an email receipt, which can be replied to if further information needs to be provided. Alternatively, individuals can update the SCA quoting the NRM reference number through the email:
What will the SCA do with my notification?
Stage 1 – The Reasonable Grounds decision:
Upon receipt of an NRM notification, the SCA has 5 working days to reach a ‘Reasonable Grounds’ decision. The threshold for this decision is:
“I suspect but cannot prove that the person is a victim of Human Trafficking, Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour’
If a ‘Positive Reasonable Grounds’ decision is reached, there is enough information to investigate.
Once a decision has been made, the police force in the area where the crime has been committed will be altered by the SCA, and a crime will be recorded and investigated by the police to establish, whether or not the child is the victim of modern slavery.
(Remember: the NRM runs alongside established safeguarding processes, it does not replace them).
The investigating officer will be provided with the contact details of the person who submitted the notification and is expected to liaise with them around how to best engage the young person and obtain any updates that might be helpful for the investigation.
Stage 2 – Conclusive Grounds Decision
After the SCA have completed their investigation, they will make a final decision. If it is decided that ‘on the balance of probabilities’, there is sufficient information to decide that the individual is a victim of modern slavery; a ‘Conclusive Grounds’ decision will be made.
A Conclusive Grounds decision provides official recognition (based on the civil burden of proof), that a child is/was a victim of exploitation at that ‘moment of time’. It does not confer any other automatic rights or benefits.