Home Office National Referral Mechanism Statistics – 1st Quarter 2021 (January – March)

The Home Office has released the most recent statistics for the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) covering the first quarter of 2021.

Between January 2021 and Marh 2021, 2,945 potential modern slavery victims were referred into the NRM. This is a 3% decrease in referrals compared to the preceding quarter (3,041) and a 3% increase from quarter 1 in 2020 (2,862). 49% (1,431) of the referrals were for potential victims who claimed exploitation as adults (compared to 50% in the preceding quarter), whilst 45% (1,330) claimed exploitation as children.

Overall, of the 2,945 potential victims referred in this quarter, 75% (2,197) were male and 25% (745) were female. The Home Office notes that the proportions are similar to recent quarters, although male potential victims have formed an increasing proportion of NRM referrals over the years.

As in previous quarters, overall, potential victims were most commonly referred for criminal exploitation only, which accounted for 37% (1,097) of all referrals. For those exploited as children, an increase in the identification of ‘county lines’ cases has partially driven the increase in referrals within the criminal exploitation category.

There has been a sharp drop in referrals for overseas exploitation, likely due to the COVID-19 restrictions on travel, with 64% (1,897) of potential victims claiming exploitation in the UK only, compared to 57% in the last quarter, and with only 23% (691) claiming overseas only exploitation. The statistics show, however, that despite ongoing restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the first quarter of 2021 saw the third-highest number of quarterly referrals to the NRM since it began.

Modern Slavery: National Referral Mechanism and Duty to Notify statistics UK, end of year summary 2020

The UK Home Office has published an end of year summary for 2020 modern slavery statistics. The statistics cover both referrals into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and those referred via the Duty to Notify (DtN) process.

In 2020, 10,613 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the NRM, compared to 10,616 in 2019. This is the first time when the NRM referrals had not increased since the preceding year. The summary prepared by the Home Office points out that this may be a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that lockdown measures may have resulted in victims being less likely to interact with first responders.

In 2020, number of adult referrals was 5,087 (48%) whilst child referrals amounted to 4,946 (47%). 5% of referrals were of unknown age. Out of the potential victims, 26% (2,752) were female and 74% (7,826) were male. For adult potential victims, 70% (3,540) were male and 30% (1,538) were female, whilst for child potential victims, 78% (3,843) were male and 22% (1,079) were female.

The most common type of exploitation for adults was labour exploitation and for minors was criminal exploitation. Overall, criminal exploitation only, accounted for 34% (3,568) of all referrals, and an additional 15% (1,590) of cases referred for criminal exploitation combined with other exploitation types.

UK, Albanian and Vietnamese citizens remain the most common nationalities referred to the NRM.

Additionally, in 2020, the Home Office was notified of an additional 2,178 potential adult victims via the DtN process. The DtN process requires public authorities in England and Wales to notify the Home Office of potential victims who do not consent to enter the NRM.

For the full summary, please see here.

National Referral Mechanism Statistics UK, 3rd Quarter 2020 – July to September

The UK Home Office has published the most recent Modern Slavery Statistics, covering quarter 3 of 2020 (July – September).

Home Office reports that 2,506 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the NRM. 1,224 (29%) of the NRM referrals claimed exploitation as adults whilst 1,159 (46%) claimed exploitation as children. For 5% of the referral their age at exploitation was unknown.

Overall, of the 2,506 potential victims referred in this quarter, 74% (1,853) were male and 26% (647) were female; these proportions are similar to the previous quarter. For adult potential victims, 69% (849) were male and 31% (374) were female, whilst for child potential victims, 79% (912) were male and 21% (242) were female.

The statistics flag the issue of ‘county lines’ exploitation of children – with 401 referrals flagged as county lines referrals, accounting for 16% of all referrals received in the quarter. The majority (82%; 328) of these referrals were made for male children.

UK, Albanian and Vietnamese citizens remain the most common nationalities referred to the NRM.

For detailed statistics please see the government website here. 

Prevalence of Minors in Kathmandu’s Adult Entertainment Sector

A report released last year by the Freedom Fund and John Jay College gives some of the first reliable estimates in relation to how many children are involved in the adult entertainment industry in Kathmandu. It has always been known that a significant number of young people and children work in the adult entertainment industry in Kathmandu, but until recently no reliable estimates existed as to the true scale of the problem.

The study found that approximately 1650 young people under the age of 17 are working in the adult entertainment industry, making up approximately 17% of those working in the industry. The study also found 62% of workers were working in the industry before the age of 18. The majority of underage workers in the adult entertainment industry were found to be working in sexually exploitative environments and 99% were considered to be held in the worst forms of child slavery as defined by the International Labour Organisation’s convention.

The full study can be found here.

Financing Organised Crime: Human Trafficking in Focus

The Centre for the Study of Democracy has released a paper looking at human trafficking within the EU and how it can be best understood by placing the financial proceeds of human trafficking at the centre of analysis. The paper recognises that there are substantial gaps in knowledge surrounding finances in trafficking in human beings in the EU, and this in part stems from local level law enforcement lacking specific experience in dealing with organised crime finances.

The report is broken into five main sections, including:

  1. A general overview of the state of criminal money management (CMM), and CMM within the specific context of human trafficking.
  2. Contemporary trends and market structures for human trafficking in the EU countries studied.
  3. The role money has to play in human trafficking.
  4. The role and implications ICT has for human trafficking.
  5. Survey of the role money laundering investigations can have in tackling trafficking in human beings.

The report concludes by summarising the main findings from each section and making policy recommendations for future research and practice.

Access to the full paper can be found here.


Behaviour change communications campaigns targeting the demand

The Freedom Fund have published a paper reviewing the use of Behaviour Change Campaigns, which have been used in healthcare and development sectors to try and influence and transform the behaviour of individuals. The paper reviews Behaviour Change Campaigns which have targeted issues such as child abuse, violence against women, and sexual violence in an effort to develop a future campaign that might tackle modern slavery and child sexual exploitation in Kathmandu.  This paper has drawn on 28 different studies.

The paper has reached several conclusions. The main findings are:

  1. The focus needs to be on injunctive not descriptive norms;
  2. Behaviour Change Campaigns are effective in a wide variety of mediums. However, this is not to say that they will be effective in every medium and context.
  3. Campaigns often succeed in bringing about positive change in the targeted individuals. However, there is some evidence that adverse effects can result.
  4. Evaluation must be embedded from the onset of the Behavioural Change Campaign. Since Behaviour Change Campaigns can have adverse effects the continual effectiveness of the campaign must be subject to constant evaluation.


The report was released in January 2019, and can be found here.

Combating Modern Slavery through Data, Technology and Partnerships

Technology, communications, and data are being increasingly used for the purposes of combating human trafficking and modern slavery. A new paper by Liberty Shared considers the strengths  and limitations of different data sources and methodologies of data collection, with a particular focus on ‘big data’ and ‘thick data’. It notes that the effective gathering and analysing of data has a vital role in understanding and tackling major societal issues such as modern slavery. The report also looks at partnerships that can combine with differing tools of data collection and communication to maximise the impact of different organisations  with varied strengths and capabilities.

The report also makes note of the need for public-private sector collaborations, and explores how both sectors will stand to benefit greatly in their anti-trafficking and anti-slavery efforts from these partnerships.

The full paper can be found here.

Ending Forced Labour by 2030: A Review of Policies and Programmes

In 2016 a report by the International Labour Organisation found that on any given day there were around 25 million people subjected to forced labour, of which just over 4 million people were below the age of 18. This report by the ILO looks back on the targets set by the international community to end forced labour by 2030 and ensure that child labour had been eradicated by 2025, and aims to guide policy and procedure in the lead up to these key dates. The report is split into three sections:

  1. Key numbers relating to global modern slavery and the ways in which it may manifest.
  2. Ending forced labour through the 2014 forced labour protocol: which is broken into 4 key parts; Prevention, Protection, Remedies, and Enforcement.
  3. and, Ending forced labour in children and adults: looking forward to 2030 and 2025.

These sections identify the background and key information surrounding modern slavery, the current international instruments, and makes suggestions for ensuring that the targets are met.

The report can be found here.

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Report on Understanding and Responding to Modern Slavery within the Homelessness Sector

In January 2017 a report titled ‘Understanding and Responding to Modern Slavery within the Homelessness Sector‘ was published. This was the result of an initial scoping exercise commissioned by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner in 2016 to survey and better understand the links between modern slavery and homelessness. As part of this report, a leading charity in the homelessness sector, The Passage, was appointed to research the issue.

The report made use of 61 online surveys and 2 focus groups across England in conjunction with semi-structured interviews to research the links between these two issues. The key findings were that individuals living on the streets were vulnerable to exploitation, and that those who were already victims of modern slavery were at risk of becoming homeless if no effective long term support provisions are made available to them. As such, the report presents a set of recommendations designed to address the issues raised by the study and to improve collaborative, multi-agency responses.

The recommendations fall into three categories:

  1. Training and Raising Awareness
  2. Data Collection and Collation
  3. Partnerships

This report focuses on modern slavery and homelessness within England.

The Full report can be found here.

GRETA 2018: Report concerning the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the Netherlands

GRETA’s report on human trafficking response in the Netherlands marks progress and positive actions being taken to address the crime, including:

  • Increased funding for police and prosecution services dealing with trafficking cases
  • The creation of the Victim Identification Board, an independent multidisciplinary body tasked with the identification of victims of human trafficking
  • The awareness-raising campaigns concerning trafficking for different forms of exploitation and the steps taken to strengthen cooperation in the field of labour migration
  • Attention paid to victim compensation and many decisions by courts ordering perpetrators to pay compensation to victims of trafficking

However GRETA’s report marks the concern with the decreasing number of prosecutions and convictions for trafficking offences recently. Sexual exploitation is the most common driver of human trafficking within the Netherlands, however the number of prosecutions for sex trafficking halving over the last five years. It is suggested that Dutch authorities thoroughly investigate trafficking offences and ensure prosecution with ‘proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’, as well as ‘improve the identification of and assistance to child victims of trafficking’.

For the full October 2018 Report concerning the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the Netherlands, read here.