Recently, the Anti-Slavery Commissioner and ECPAT UK collaborated on publishing  ‘A review of what works in multi-agency decision making and the implications for child victims of trafficking’ (August 2020).

This is in response to the proposed and trialled attempts to modify decision making models for children and adults over the years, the claim that the Home Office is alleged to be considering a pilot to test approaches to devolve NRM decision making for children to  local authorities and local partnerships, and the issues identified within the current system, including: 

  • quality of the NRM decisions; 
  • timeliness of decisions and the impact of this delay on safeguarding actions; 
  • disconnect between the NRM and local safeguarding processes; 
  • gaps in knowledge among professionals about the NRM and what it means for children. 

The review, in turn, assessed multi-agency decision making across different models and, in order to identify good practices, analysed key themes, such as:  the function of the decision making models; membership; the inclusion of survivor voices; training; funding and resourcing; information sharing and governance.  

Below is a selection of highlighted recommendations made by the review: 

  • that safeguarding partners participating in devolved decision making ensure a devolved NRM decision making model does not exist solely as a binary determination of trafficking status but is intrinsically linked to local safeguarding structures to ensure a more holistic approach to protecting child victims of trafficking and preventing further exploitation; 
  • that safeguarding partners ensure suitable information sharing protocols are in place between all agencies involved in the devolved decision process to facilitate timely and efficient sharing of information; 
  • that safeguarding partners facilitate the voice of the child within decision making by ensuring that the wishes and feelings of children are understood and are taken into account 
  • that the UK government conduct a new burdens assessment to determine the extra resources needed to devolve NRM decision making and ensure that adequate funding is provided to local safeguarding partnerships to reflect this 
  • that the UK government ensure sufficient funding for local safeguarding partnerships to meet the demands of contextual safeguarding interventions for children and young people who have been trafficked and exploited within their overall safeguarding duties; and 
  • that the UK government commission an independent evaluation of the pilot to test approaches to devolved decision making, ensuring that this measures impact by focusing on the long-term outcomes for children and young people. 

For the full report and its full recommendations, see here.