To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to reduce the time taken to assess potential victim of human trafficking cases.
1 November 2021
There is no target timeframe in which to make conclusive grounds decisions in the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). A decision can only be made fairly and reasonably once sufficient information has been made available to the competent authority for it to complete the decision.
When the competent authority has received sufficient information for it to complete a decision it should seek to do so. This is done as soon as possible once a potential victim has been provided with a minimum of 45 calendar days of the recovery period they are eligible for, during which they may access the support and protections of the NRM. Timescales on individual decisions can vary according to the relative complexity of each case and on sufficient information being made available to the competent authority by the parties involved.
The Home Office is mindful of the substantial increase in referrals into the National Referral Mechanism in recent years, with 10,613 referrals made in 2020. To address the time taken to make decisions in the NRM, we have already introduced a digital referral and casework system to increase the efficiency of decision making in the system. We are also undertaking work to better ensure that first responders are providing quality information that can better enable prompt decisions from the Home Office. As part of wider work to identify sustainable models for the NRM, in June 2021 we launched a series of pilots across the United Kingdom, including in Glasgow City Centre, to test devolving the responsibility to make NRM decisions for child victims of modern slavery from the Home Office to local authorities for 12 months.
Further, in the course of the last year the Home Office has been recruiting a significant number of new decision makers across the UK to increase capacity for NRM decision-making and bring down decision making timescales.