The National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is a system for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. Victim consent has to be given (for adults), in order for them to be entered into the process.

The NRM is also the way to collect data about victims. This information contributes to building a clearer picture about the scope of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.

The NRM provides a minimum 45-day reflection and recovery period for victims of human trafficking or modern slavery.

Statutory duties

When a 'First Responder' organisation identifies someone who they believe may be a victim of Modern Slavery, they have a statutory duty to offer them referral into the NRM. First Responder agencies include: Local Authorities, Police Forces, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, the Salvation Army, UK Border Force, The National Crime Agency, Home Office Visas and Immigration, and NGOs such as Barnardos, Migrant Help, Unseen and the Refugee Council.

Should the potential victim not give their consent to enter into the NRM, First Responders are still required to submit a Duty To Notify form (DTN).

Since 29th August 2019, the NRM and DTN referral process for First Responders has now moved online.

The new process will allow NRM referral or DTN submissions to be made by First Responders using a single online form, whether for an adult or child victim. However, an adult must still confirm their verbal consent to enter the NRM.

The new form can be accessed through the following link:

The form can also be filled in offline prior to submission online. This paper form with amendable fields can be accessed here

**First Responders then still need to complete the online form - the potential victim will not be referred until they do.

In the case of children, consent to the NRM is not required. All children must be referred to the NRM.

If the child being referred is already receiving input from other services, the type of strategy meeting that has taken place must be mentioned (date and which professions were present) prior to referral and the fact that everyone has agreed to this.

Please Note: The SCA will not accept referral forms for adults that have not been signed by the individual.

How to complete an NRM submission effectively

It is important that the First Responder completing an NRM form does so effectively, as it may affect the outcome of the SCA decision. 

Tips on how to complete an NRM form is included in the Victim-centred responses to Modern Slavery report. 

It is recommended that First Responder staff who are designated to complete NRM submission receive appropriate training. Unseen UK provide a range of training packages and can be contacted at


The NRM was introduced in 2009 to meet the UK’s obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. From 31st July 2015 the NRM was extended to all victims of modern slavery in England and Wales following the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

An NRM Review (2014) recommended an overhaul to the way victims are supported and identified. In response to the review, changes to the NRM have been piloted in the West Yorkshire police force area, and in the South West (Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire police force areas) from August 2015 to December 2016.

The pilot intended to:

1. Improve identification of victims, so an increased number of victims are identified;

2. Improve the referral process, so more potential victims access the process;

3. Improve the decisions made, especially at the point of conclusive grounds decision.

Following the pilot stage, the Home Office announced a reform programme (details here).

Since 2019 a Single Competent Authority has been in place to receive and make a decision on NRM referral cases, replacing two separate Competent Authorities that received referrals from EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals respectively. 

In 2021 the Immigration Enforcement Competent Authority was introduced. This body makes NRM decisions for potential victims who do not have leave to remain in the UK.