Perceptions of psychological coercion and human trafficking in the West Midlands of England: Beginning to know the unknown

Journal article


Dando, Coral J., Walsh, Dave and Brierley, Robin 2016. Perceptions of psychological coercion and human trafficking in the West Midlands of England: Beginning to know the unknown. PLos ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153263
AuthorsDando, Coral J., Walsh, Dave and Brierley, Robin
Abstract

Modern slavery is less overt than historical state-sanctioned slavery because psychological abuse is typically used to recruit and then control victims. The recent UK Draft Modern Slavery Bill, and current UK government anti-slavery strategy relies heavily on a shared understanding and public cooperation to tackle this crime. Yet, UK research investigating public understanding of modern slavery is elusive. We report community survey data from 682 residents of the Midlands of England, where modern slavery is known to occur, concerning their understanding of nonphysical coercion and human trafficking (one particular form of modern slavery). Analysis of quantitative data and themed categorization of qualitative data revealed a mismatch between theoretical frameworks and understanding of psychological coercion, and misconceptions concerning the nature of human trafficking. Many respondents did not understand psychological coercion, believed that human trafficking did not affect them, and confused trafficking with immigration. The public are one of the most influential interest groups, but only if well informed and motivated towards positive action. Our findings suggest the need for strategically targeted public knowledge exchange concerning this crime.

Modern slavery is less overt than historical state-sanctioned slavery because psychological abuse is typically used to recruit and then control victims. The recent UK Draft Modern Slavery Bill, and current UK government anti-slavery strategy relies heavily on a shared understanding
and public cooperation to tackle this crime. Yet, UK research investigating public understanding of modern slavery is elusive. We report community survey data from 682 residents of the Midlands of England, where modern slavery is known to occur, concerning their understanding of nonphysical coercion and human trafficking (one particular form of modern slavery). Analysis of quantitative data and themed categorization of qualitative data revealed a mismatch between theoretical frameworks and understanding of psychological coercion, and misconceptions concerning the nature of human trafficking. Many respondents did not understand psychological coercion, believed that human trafficking did not affect them, and confused trafficking with immigration. The public are one of the most influential interest groups, but only if well informed and motivated towards positive action. Our
findings suggest the need for strategically targeted public knowledge exchange concerning this crime.

KeywordsModern Slavery; Human trafficking; Labour exploitation; Public perceptions
Year2016
JournalPLos ONE
PublisherPublic Library of Science
ISSN1932-6203
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0153263
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/611242
hdl:10545/611242
Publication dates05 May 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited31 May 2016, 14:57
Accepted25 Mar 2016
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Archived with thanks to PLOS ONE

ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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