This article summarizes the Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) to Combat Human Trafficking task force study, with a focus on major findings and conclusions, and recommendations for policy and practice. The ECM task force model was developed and implemented by the federal Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance.
Inherently complex, human trafficking crimes can pose a number of barriers to enforcement. A significant hurdle to progress, in many jurisdictions, is local authorities’ lack of recognition of trafficking crimes as such, for both sex and labor trafficking. As a result, those offenses are often not prosecuted under available trafficking statutes, denying survivors the full protection of the law. In the past two decades, federal reforms have spurred progress against trafficking, but hurdles remain. Research shows, including local and state law enforcement’s concentration on sex trafficking, to the exclusion of the labor trafficking problem. Innovative multi-disciplinary trafficking task forces, employing the Enhanced Collaborative Model (ECM) to Combat Human Trafficking, were launched with federal backing in 2010. The state-based task forces have increased trafficking prosecutions and demonstrated the value of, and ongoing need for, collaboration between local and state law enforcement and victim service providers. A limited study supported by the National Institute of Justice and conducted by the Urban Institute of 10 of those task forces, however, reveals inconsistent progress across jurisdictions, with a continuation of concerning practices, such as the arrest of trafficking survivors. Some agencies that arrest trafficking survivors have reported that they do so to protect them, or to leverage their testimony against traffickers. This article summarizes the trafficking task force study, with a focus on major findings and conclusions, and recommendations for policy and practice. The ECM task force model was developed and implemented by the federal Office for Victims of Crime and Bureau of Justice Assistance.
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