Indicators of trafficking and slavery
Prosecutors should be alert to particular circumstances or situations where someone suspected of committing a criminal offence might also be a victim of trafficking or slavery.
The duty to make proper inquiries and to refer through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
In considering whether a suspect might be a victim of trafficking or slavery, as required in the first stage of the assessment, prosecutors should have regard to their duty to make proper inquiries in criminal prosecutions involving individuals who may be victims of trafficking or slavery.
The inquiries should be made by:
Advising the law enforcement agency who investigated the original offence that it must investigate the suspect's trafficking/slavery situation, if it has not already done so;
Advising the law enforcement agency to consider referring the suspect through the NRM for victim identification, if this has not already been done.
All law enforcement officers can refer potential victims of trafficking/slavery to the NRM. An NRM referral should always be made unless the law enforcement agency is in possession of clear and sufficient evidence to prove that the suspect is not a victim of trafficking/slavery.
Adults must consent to the referral to the NRM. If an adult suspect does not consent to their referral, the charging decision should be made on whatever other information might be available, without the benefit of an NRM decision on their victim status.
These steps must be carried out even where there is an indication of a guilty plea by the suspect's legal representative.
There will be cases where a threshold test charging decision needs to be made before the competent authority decision is known. Guidance on the application of the threshold test can be found in the 8th edition of the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
Referral to the NRM and NRM decisions
Following the NRM referral, the Single Competent Authority (SCA) will first make a ‘reasonable grounds’ decision. A positive reasonable grounds decision is made when there are reasonable grounds to believe the individual is a potential victim of human trafficking/slavery. This means "I suspect, but cannot prove" that the individual is a victim. The SCA aims to make this decision within 5 working days whenever possible. The potential trafficking/slavery victim will then be eligible for government funded support during a recovery and reflection period for a minimum of 45 days.
During this period, the SCA gathers further information about the victim. This additional information is used to make a conclusive grounds decision on whether the referred person is a victim of human trafficking/slavery.
A conclusive grounds decision is whether, on the balance of probabilities, it is more likely than not that the individual is a victim of human trafficking/slavery.
Take into account an NRM decision;
Consider a conclusive grounds decision to be of more weight than a reasonable grounds decision;
Make inquiries, where there is a reasonable grounds decision only, about when a conclusive decision is likely to be made; and
Examine the cogency of the evidence on which the Competent Authority (CA) relied.
The decision of the CA as to whether a person had been trafficked for the purposes of exploitation is not binding on the Crown Court or the CPS. Unless there was evidence to contradict it or significant evidence that had not been considered, it is likely that the criminal courts will abide by the decision; see R v L(C)  1 All ER 113 at 28
and R v VSJ  1 WLR 3153 at sect; 20(viii)
. The decision should be scrutinised by the prosecutor to assess the extent to which the evidence has been analysed, weighed and tested by the CA and to assess the quality of any expert evidence relied upon.