Since November 2015 all public authorities including the police, local authorities and the National Crime Agency, have been required to notify the government where they have reasonable grounds to believe that a person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking. The duties of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 apply to the police, local authorities, the National Crime Agency, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and UK Visas and Immigration, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force staff.
There is no typical victim of slavery – victims can be men, women and children of all ages and cut across the population. But it is normally more prevalent amongst the most vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups. Victims may be forced to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts against their will and women and children make up the majority of victims, though men can also be affected.
Government figures cite an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013, with only 1,746 potential victims referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
Given the hidden nature of trafficking and modern slavery, it is likely that only a small proportion of victims are encountered by public authorities and, of those, a smaller proportion are referred to the NRM.
There are three main elements of human trafficking:
- The movement – recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people
- The control – threat, use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or the giving of payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim
- The purpose – exploitation of a person, which includes prostitution and other sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices, and the removal of organs
Children cannot give consent to being moved, therefore the coercion or deception elements do not have to be present.
Decisions about who is recognised as a victim of modern slavery or trafficking are made by trained specialists in designated ‘Competent Authorities’.
Who are the Competent Authorities and which cases do they consider
The UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) within the National Crime Agency and the Home Office are the UK’s two designated Competent Authority decision makers under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
The UK Human trafficking centre (UKHTC) plays a central role. Find out more here:
Advice and support for professionals
The Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) provides free guidance and training to professionals concerned that a child or young person has been or is about to be trafficked into or out of the UK including:
- advice by phone and email to professionals
- co-ordinate multi-agency responses, focused on protecting the child
- deliver training and awareness-raising presentations in the UK and across the world
- attend child protection meetings and produce child trafficking reports for courts
- are a first responder for child referrals into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care
Where to find out more including where to get help
Crown Prosecution Service: Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Slavery
HM Government (2014) The Modern Slavery Strategy
NHS Guidance for health staff: Identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery
Modern Slavery UK website: here