To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of how the changes to the National Referral Mechanism announced on 17 October 2017 will affect children; and whether she has made an assessment of the potential merits of implementing multi-agency decision-making in cases involving potential child victims of trafficking.
The recently announced package of reforms for the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) incorporated a number of measures that will improve the NRM process for children. These measures were informed by an evaluation of an 18 month pilot testing changes to the NRM process, including multi-agency decision-making, for both adult and child cases.
The creation of a single, expert unit within the Home Office, to make decisions about whether somebody is a victim of modern slavery, will replace the current case management units in the National Crime Agency and UK Visas and Immigration, and will be separate from the immigration system. A priority for the new unit will be to ensure that it has the right balance of diverse expertise to be able to make effective decisions.
The creation of an independent multi-agency panel to review all negative NRM decisions will not only increase confidence in the decision making process but will also significantly add to the scrutiny each case currently receives.
In addition, we will roll out Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTAs) nationally, and continue testing innovative ways of supporting trafficked children through the £2.2m funding we granted as part of the Child Trafficking Protection Fund. We will also explore how to make the NRM decision-making process more ‘child-friendly’, including looking at how we communicate NRM decisions to children and considering how local authorities can contribute to the decision-making process in a more consistent and structured way.