Bishop Viv speaks at the House of Lords on Modern Slavery Referral Mechanism

First published 16th May 2024

The Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, Bishop of Bristol put forward the following question to the House of Lord in a debate on Modern Slavery National Referral Mechanism: Waiting Times that took place on Monday 13 May:

To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to reduce waiting times for ‘conclusive grounds’ decisions under the National Referral Mechanism for modern slavery.

Lord Sharpe of Epsom, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office responded:

My Lords, the Government remain committed to ensuring that victims are identified promptly. We have taken steps to shorten the timelines for making decisions in the national referral mechanism, including new guidance for making reasonable grounds decisions, changes to the online referral form and setting timescales for information to be provided to the competent authorities. We have also significantly increased staffing for the competent authorities and are seeing the results through increased output of decisions.

Bishop of Bristol followed up with the following Oral Question:

I thank the Minister for that Answer. The median waiting time for conclusive grounds decisions in 2023 was 526 days but, for women, the median waiting time rose to 904 days, nearly double that for the whole group. This has a negative impact on them, their families and their children, and it makes it very difficult for swift enforcement action to be taken against perpetrators. What assessment have the Government made of why this discrepancy is so large and what steps are they taking urgently to reduce waiting times for women?

Lord Sharpe of Epsom responded:

I thank the right reverend Prelate for that question. We are working to improve the timeliness of all decisions from all angles. That includes increasing the capacity for decision-making, testing alternative approaches, improving the quality of the information provided as part of the decision-making process, and reducing opportunities for misuse. The statistics are trending in the right direction. In the past two years, almost 30,000 people have had access to the protections of the NRM. Last year, 9,825 conclusive grounds decisions were issued, the highest number since the NRM began. In the first quarter of this year, 5,161 reasonable grounds decisions and 3,893 inclusive grounds decisions were issued, far higher than in any other quarter since the NRM began.


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