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February 22, 2024

The National Referral Mechanism: Near Breaking Point – Progress Report 2024 – One Year On


Today, ahead of the Human Trafficking Foundation’s forum held at Linklaters, Kalayaan is launching our new report, ‘The National Referral Mechanism: Near Breaking Point, Progress Report 2024: One Year On.

Link to our report is here.

This report provides an overview of the last 12 months relating to the crisis facing First Responder Organisations and their capacity to assist and safeguard survivors of trafficking and modern slavery.

In February 2023, Kalayaan published our initial report, laying bare the pressures facing First Responder Organisations, specifically non-statutory organisations, tasked with identifying and assisting survivors. We are disappointed to report that our worst fears have been realised over the past 12 months: the Government has failed to act, putting survivors at unnecessary risk as they are effectively barred from accessing the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and the protections it provides.

Our new report includes the real-life cases of Caroline and Teresa, women who had been trafficked and needed to enter the NRM to access immediate support, but who had to endure weeks of waiting. Delays entering the NRM places unnecessary strain on specialist, front line, support organisations, who report not knowing what to do in the absence of a functioning First Responder system.

Kalayaan was pleased to see the US State Department and Home Affairs Committee in 2023 back our recommendation to increase the number of organisations designated as First Responders.

Our recommendations included in our updated 2024 report remain the same as the ones we called for in 2023:

  • Consider and decide on existing applications from specialist front line organisations to become a First Responder Organisation
  • Establish a recruitment process without further delay for prospective organisations to be able to apply
  • Develop and maintain a nationwide training programme for both statutory and non-statutory First Responder Organisations
  • Provide funding for First Responder Organisations to carry out their roles

We urge the Government to take immediate action without further delay and implement our recommendations in full.

For further information and any press enquiries, please contact