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Using law enforcement data in trafficking research

Cockbain, EP; Bowers, K; Vernon, L; (2019) Using law enforcement data in trafficking research. In: Winterdyk, J and Jones, J, (eds.) The Palgrave International Handbook of Human Trafficking. Palgrave Macmillan: Cham, Switzerland. Green open access

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Law enforcement data are a promising and largely untapped resource for academic research into human trafficking. Better use of such data can help inform and expand an evidence-based approach to counter-trafficking policy and practice. Authored by both academics and a senior law enforcement practitioner, this chapter provides rare and important insights into the theoretical, practical, legal and ethical considerations around using law enforcement data in human trafficking research. Its discussions should prove useful to researchers, practitioners and policy-makers interested in understanding and tackling human trafficking more effectively. The chapter begins with a critical appraisal of the human trafficking literature, highlighting particular gaps, imbalances and weaknesses. The stage is then set to explore the utility and applications of a long-neglected but empirically-rich source of data on human trafficking: those that law enforcement agencies generate and/or hold. The limitations of law enforcement data are made explicit and their benefits are explored, with reference to relevant human trafficking studies and innovative research into other crimes. Key considerations are addressed around the actual process of using law enforcement data, drawing on the authors’ experiences as researchers and a research-enabler. This section is informed in particular by four recent human trafficking studies in which the authors were involved, all of which used sensitive and hard-to-access law enforcement data. These innovative studies spanned both small- and large-scale datasets, qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method enquiries, internal and international trafficking movements and some of the main variants of human trafficking: sex trafficking, trafficking for domestic servitude and labour trafficking across diverse licit and illicit labour markets.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Using law enforcement data in trafficking research
ISBN-13: 978-3-319-63057-1
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-63192-9_100-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63192-9_100-1
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Human trafficking, Modern slavery, Evidence-based policy, Evidence-based policing, Crime prevention, Labour trafficking, Sex trafficking, Domestic servitude, Child sexual exploitation, Forced labour, Labour exploitation, Trafficking data, Trafficking research methods, Law enforcement data, Trafficking investigations, Trafficking prosecutions
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10055641
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