Working Title of PhD: How is human trafficking regulated in the UK? A critical assessment of the UK’s response to trafficking based on victims’ narratives and professionals’ perspectives.
Year commenced PhD study: 2017-2018
Institution/Organisation: The University of Edinburgh
Funding Source (if any): Onassis Foundation
Full or part-time: Full time
PhD Supervisors: Professor Lesley McAra and Dr Steve Kirkwood
The National Referral Mechanism (the UK’s mechanism to identify and deal with human trafficking victims) has been criticised mainly by NGOs and scholars for a variety of reasons, such as the lack of sufficient help and protection to victims. Most of this criticism is based on documents and data gathered from statutory services and even when interviews with victims are conducted, they are not given a central position, but are usually mentioned through isolated quotations and interview extracts. This means that more focus is needed on the victims’ point of view. Therefore, my research aims to achieve the following:
To hear about the NRM from victims and practitioners, understand the problems of and examine the main criticisms levelled against the UK’s response system, assess the mechanism and suggest improvements. To achieve this I will also need to fulfil these secondary objectives:
Present the legislation on human trafficking. See how the UK legislation is embedded in the broader European and international legislative context.
Find and examine the overarching images, notions and foundations and deconstruct dominant discourses in the UK policies (e.g. prevalent image of victims, traffickers, how is human trafficking presented and understood, how is the trafficking experience perceived etc.).
Hear the actual trafficking experiences from the victims and compare them with the picture/discourse that the above policies, documents and laws have created.
The research will be based on documentary analysis, narrative interviews with victims and semi-structured interviews with professionals working within the UK regulatory architecture.
Keywords: Criminal Justice System, Victims, Human Trafficking