Multi-agency panels to scrutinise decisions on potential modern slavery victims

Some decisions on potential modern slavery victims could be independently reviewed under measures introduced by the Government.

Ministers say the changes will improve transparency and support for those flagged up to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

The NRM is the official system for identifying children and adults who are at the mercy of slave drivers and traffickers.

Nearly 7,000 people were referred to the mechanism last year.

After a referral is made by first responders, specialist units assess the case.

At first they decide if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that the individual is a victim.

If the decision is positive an investigation is carried out to determine whether, on the balance of probabilities, the person is a victim. This is known as the “conclusive grounds” decision.

In the new system, those who receive a negative conclusive grounds decision after being referred to the NRM will automatically have the decision scrutinised by a multi-agency panel.

These panels can then require the Home Office to re-consider any case where they conclude that an incorrect decision has been made.

Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins (pictured) said: “Sadly, slavery and exploitation are not crimes of the past. They are very real and with us today.

“The Government is committed to stamping out this horrific crime and ensuring that victims get the support they need.

“By introducing truly independent and transparent scrutiny of decisions, we can ensure that people can have confidence in the decisions taken by the national referral mechanism, and in the level of support they will receive.”

Modern slavery encompasses a broad range of offending including exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and human trafficking.

An official estimate previously indicated there are up to 13,000 potential victims in the UK, but experts have said the number is now significantly higher.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kirsty O’Connor / PA Wire.