Millions of pounds are spent every year trying to tackle human trafficking, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation. These are apparently threats perpetrated by ‘criminal masterminds’, spreading at a dizzying rate and approaching epidemic proportions – or so the story goes. Amid all the bold rhetoric and sweeping claims, there is very little robust research to help understand these problems and inform evidence-based policy and practice.
In this book, readers are invited to delve inside the murky world of human trafficking. It focuses on the internal (domestic) trafficking of children for sexual exploitation. It is based on far-reaching analysis of six of the earliest and largest such investigations in the United Kingdom (UK), including the infamous Derby and Rochdale cases that sparked nationwide concerns about ‘street grooming’ and ‘Asian sex gangs’. Innovative methods, analytical rigour and truly extraordinary data underpin the research: a nuanced and sometimes unsettling exploration of the offender and victim networks, their characteristics, structure, activity and dynamics and the problems they pose for investigation and prosecution. The results paint a picture of a sprawling and dynamic system of grooming and abuse that is deeply embedded in complex webs of social relations and interactions.
This book challenges accepted wisdom, debunks myths and introduces new and fundamentally different ways of thinking about trafficking and its prevention. An accessible and compelling read, this book is for academics, policymakers, practitioners and others interested in serious and organised crime.
About the Author
Dr Ella Cockbain is a lecturer in Security and Crime Science at University College London (UCL), where she holds a prestigious national ‘Future Research Leaders’ fellowship. Her research deals with serious and organised crime and its prevention, with a particular focus on human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and forced labour. She has collaborated widely with agencies across the public and third sectors and contributed to counter-trafficking training, guidance and strategy at national and international levels. She is the co-editor of the book Applied Police Research (with J. Knutsson, 2015).
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: A different kind of trafficking
2. Extraordinary crimes involving fairly ordinary people and places
3. Unsophisticated networks and disorganised crime
4. The messy realities of grooming in a complex sex crime
5. Talking to the traffickers: Denials, distortions and destructive dynamics
6. Investigation and prosecution: Challenges, outcomes and opportunities
7. Conclusion: Complexity, connectivity and social contagion