The National Referral Mechanism is a process set up by the Government to identify and support victims of trafficking in the UK. It was born out of the Government's obligation to identify victims under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Human Trafficking, which came into force on 1 February 2008.

What is the National Referral Mechanism?

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate protection and support.

The NRM is also the mechanism through which the National Crime Agency (NCA) collects data about victims. This information aims to help build a clearer picture about the scope of human trafficking in the UK.

Why refer a child into the NRM?

Referring children into the NRM encourages the sharing of information between agencies and can help to ensure an appropriate safeguarding response.

It also helps the UK to collect evidence and build an understanding of the patterns of child trafficking. This helps to shape policy and can aid police investigations into trafficking.

How does the NRM work?

First responders

To be referred to the NRM, potential victims of trafficking must first be referred to one of the UK’s two competent authorities - the UKHTC or UK Border Agency (see below). This initial referral will generally be handled by an authorised agency, such as a police force, the UKBA, Social Services or some NGOs. The referring authority is known as the ‘first responder’.

The first responder completes a referral form (England and Wales / Scotland and Northern Ireland) (child in this instance) to pass the case to the CA. All completed NRM forms are sent to the UKHTC. The UKHTC will then determine which CA will deal with the case and will forward the papers if needed.

Completed forms should be sent to the UKHTC Competent Authority via e-mail at [email protected] or by fax to 0870 496 5534. Up-to-date information on the UKHTC and NRM is available here.

First responder agencies are: