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Top News Highest ever number of potential victims of modern slavery identified in the UK (2022)

Highest ever number of potential victims of modern slavery identified in the UK (2022)

New statistics show that the highest ever number of potential victims of modern slavery, 16,938 people, were referred to the Home Office in 2022. This was a 33% rise on the previous year’s figure of 12,706 and continues a nearly uninterrupted trend of annual rises since the current system (the National Referral Mechanism or NRM) began in 2009.

A separate system for suspected adult victims who do not consent to sharing their details and going through the NRM process, called the Duty to Notify (DtN) process, also had its highest ever number of referrals in 2022: 4,580 reports of adult potential victims.

For the first time in six years, UK nationals were not the most commonly referred nationality. The five most common nationalities referred to the NRM in 2022 were:

  1. Albanian (4,613: 79% of them adults, 21% children)
  2. UK (4,185: 20% adults, 80% children)
  3. Eritrean (1,171: 60% adults, 40% children)
  4. Sudanese
  5. Vietnamese

Albanian and UK nationals collectively accounted for more than half (52%) of all potential victims referred in 2022.

As at 26 January 2023, the Home Office says that 12,907 people who were referred in 2022 are still awaiting a ‘conclusive grounds’ decision on whether the Government believes they are a victim. This is 77% of all referrals. Of the conclusive grounds decisions made in 2022, 89% were ‘positive’. Although the speed of decision-making is increasing, the Government is struggling to clear the huge backlog of people who have been waiting in limbo for years for a decision, while the annual numbers of new referrals continue to rise.

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