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Examining the geographies of human trafficking: Methodological challenges in mapping trafficking's complexities and connectivities

Cockbain, E; Bowers, K; Hutt, O; (2022) Examining the geographies of human trafficking: Methodological challenges in mapping trafficking's complexities and connectivities. Applied Geography , 139 , Article 102643. 10.1016/j.apgeog.2022.102643. Green open access

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Abstract

There is relatively little empirical research into the geographies of human trafficking, despite its inherent spatiality and the clear benefits of geographical perspectives. An emerging but vibrant body of qualitative work explores different aspects of trafficking's spatiality and spatio-temporality in depth and nuance, but equivalent quantitative analyses are notably lacking. What exists is largely limited to crude maps and broad-brushed assessments of patterns and trends. Yet, rigorous quantitative work is also vital in advancing understanding, informing responses and increasing accountability. In this paper, we present a novel, empirically-substantiated examination of methodological challenges in mapping trafficking. We draw on analysis of data extracted from the case files of 450 formally identified labour trafficking victims (accessed via the UK's National Crime Agency). We identify and illustrate five characteristics of the data creating particular challenges for geospatial analysis: data integrity (regarding completeness, accuracy and consistency); geographical uncertainty (regarding spatial accuracy and specificity); managing multiple geographies (trafficking is a complex process with various stages, each potentially involving numerous locations); diversity and disaggregation (important geographical variations can be masked in aggregated analysis); and unclear journeys (analysing trafficking routes proved particularly complicated). We also consider possible solutions and explore implications for future research, policy and practice.

Type: Article
Title: Examining the geographies of human trafficking: Methodological challenges in mapping trafficking's complexities and connectivities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.apgeog.2022.102643
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2022.102643
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Human trafficking, Forced labor, Exploitation, Modern slavery, Migration, GIS
UCL classification: 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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10142675
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