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Modern Slavery Statutory Guidance

Volume 724: debated on Tuesday 13 December 2022

On 10 February 2022 Lord Stewart of Dirleton KC updated the House of Lords that potential victims of modern slavery would be provided with at least a 45-day recovery period, or until a conclusive grounds decision is made, whichever comes later. When Lord Stewart made this statement, this was the Government’s intention.

However, since becoming Minister for Immigration, I have made clear the Government’s renewed commitment to reviewing and reforming the national referral mechanism (NRM) to ensure that opportunities for abuse and inefficiencies, which have contributed to decision making and processing taking far too long, are addressed.

Given this necessity for NRM reform and in line with our obligations under the Council of Europe convention on action against trafficking in human beings and the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, the Government will, effective immediately—13 December 2022—be amending guidance to make clear the minimum recovery period will be 30 days rather than 45. The 30 days is the amount of time requested by the convention and is the standard recovery period for many ECAT-signatory states.

The Government remain committed to ensuring potential victims of modern slavery can access appropriate needs-based support during the recovery period in line with international and domestic legal obligations.

Today I am also updating Parliament on forthcoming changes to the guidance for modern slavery reasonable grounds decision making, which will go live operationally in January 2023. In January, the guidance will be included in “Modern Slavery: Statutory Guidance for England and Wales (under s49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015) and Non-Statutory Guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland” and published on'>

The updated guidance will mean decision makers now base their assessments on objective factors to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe a person is a victim. This will ensure that decision makers can make timely and robust evidence-backed decisions and that assistance and support are focused on those who most need it.

A copy of the draft statutory guidance will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will also be made available on when it becomes operational.