Since 29 April 2019, previous Competent Authorities were replaced by the Single Competent Authority (SCA) which considers all referrals to the NRM from first responders.
Designated first responders include government agencies such as the police and social services, and NGOs such as Unseen, Poppy Project, Migrant Help, Salvation Army, Medaille Trust, Kalayaan and Barnardo's.
The SCA makes decisions on all NRM cases irrespective of the immigration status, nationality or status of individuals. The SCA has five working days from the receipt of the referral to make a decision on whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the individual is a “potential victim of trafficking” (PVoT.).
Reasonable grounds decisions for cases in immigration detention will be considered as soon as possible. This should be conducted by trained experts within the competent authority and there are two stages to this process:
Stage one: reasonable grounds
The NRM team has a target date of five working days from receipt of referral in which to decide whether there are reasonable grounds to believe the individual is a potential victim of human trafficking. This may involve seeking additional information from the first responder or from specialist NGOs, social services or the individual's legal representative.
The threshold at this stage is: 'from the information available so far I suspect but cannot prove' that the individual is a potential victim of trafficking.
The UKVI Asylum Process Guidance Policy on victims of trafficking states:
“the 'reasonable grounds' test has a low threshold and is lower than the threshold required for prima facie evidence (which is legally sufficient evidence, that, if contested, would establish a fact or raise a presumption of a fact). The test that should be applied is whether the statement 'I suspect but cannot prove' would be true and whether a reasonable person would be of the opinion that, having regard to the information in the mind of the decision maker, there were reasonable grounds to suspect the individual concerned had been trafficked.”
Stage two: conclusive decision
During the 45-day recovery and reflection period, the competent authority gathers further information relating to the referral from the first responder and other agencies.
This information is used to make a conclusive decision as to whether the referred person is a victim of human trafficking. The target for a conclusive decision is within this 45-day period, although in practice this time-frame is not adhered to.
The case manager's threshold for a conclusive decision is that, on the balance of probability, 'it is more likely than not' that the individual is a victim of human trafficking.
It is important to pass on any supporting documentation to the competent authority that may help it reach its determinations, such as medical and expert reports.