Overview: 2023 National Referral Mechanism Statistics 

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is the United Kingdom’s system that identifies  potential victims of modern slavery. Annual statistics for 2023, as well as the 4th quarter October – December 2023 have been released in March 2024. The increases in referrals to the NRM are likely due to increased awareness of modern slavery, as well as potential increases in exploitation. Major findings detail: 

4th Quarter, October – December 2023

  •  4,142 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the Home Office, a similar number to the previous quarter (4,131) and a 6% decrease from the same quarter in 2022 (4,413).
  • The most common nationality referred in the quarter were UK nationals (27%; 1,139). Albanian nationals were the second most commonly referred with 802 referrals (19%), with Vietnamese nationals third with 268 referrals (6%).
  • Of the 4,142 potential victims referred, 48% (1978) were potential victims who claimed to have been exploited when they were adults, whilst 47% (1,945) claimed to have been exploited when they were children. Of these, 75% (3,097) were male and 25% (1,041) were female.
  • Regarding the type of exploitation most commonly seen amongst referrals, the highest proportion of referrals were for criminal exploitation only (28%; 1,172). For adult potential victims, labour exploitation was most commonly reported (34%; 680), whereas child potential victims were more commonly referred for criminal exploitation (43%; 844). Though referrals flagged as county lines partly drove the increase in referrals for children within the criminal exploitation category between 2020 to 2022 (average of over 550 referrals each quarter), in 2023, the number of referrals flagged fell to an average of around 390 each quarter.


Overall in 2023, 15,247 reasonable grounds and 9,825 conclusive grounds decision were made. Of these, 55% of RG decisions and 66% of CG decisions were positive. The number of CG decisions was the highest annual number made since the NRM began.

The full Home office report can be found here, Modern Slavery: National Referral Mechanism and Duty to Notify statistics UK, quarter 4 2023 – October to December