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Where Are All the Victims?: Understanding the Determinants of Official Identification of Human Trafficking Incidents

NCJ Number
Criminology and Public Policy Volume: 9 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2010 Pages: 201-233
Amy Farrell; Jack McDevitt; Stephanie Fahy
Date Published
May 2010
33 pages

This study examined the determinants for law enforcement in identifying human trafficking victims.


Results indicate that between 2000 and 2006, 9.7 percent of police agencies in the United States reported investigating at least one case of human trafficking. Larger agencies were more likely to identify cases of human trafficking, but the agency leader perception about the problem in their local communities as well as taking steps to prepare officers to identify and respond were the most important factors to increasing human trafficking identification by police. Agencies serving larger populations were more likely to investigate such cases, although the police in communities of all sizes identified trafficking cases. Agencies that identify and investigate multiple cases of human trafficking primarily reported investigating a single type of human trafficking; 70 percent identified only labor trafficking or only sex trafficking cases. Data were collected from 3,189 surveys from U.S. municipal, county, and State law enforcement agencies regarding their perceptions of human trafficking and their experiences investigating such cases. Tables, references, and appendixes