ESRC Festival of Social Science – Human Trafficking in the South East

On Wednesday 5th November we held a specialist workshop event for the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2014. In its 12th series, the ESRC Festival is a week-long programme of events dedicated to engaging the public and to raising awareness on the value of the social sciences. Our event was dedicated to the issue of human trafficking in the South East of England. Out of the hundreds of events put on this week, ours was the only one dedicated to human trafficking. We were also delighted to host the event in Margate at the magnificent Turner Contemporary.

With a breath taking backdrop view of the sea, a wide range of stakeholders and practitioners with differing levels of understanding and expertise on human trafficking came together to listen to latest research. In the course of the event, stakeholders shared their experiences and responded to the research’s emerging themes. Attendees included representatives from Kent and Margate Police, the Home Office, Migrant Help, Thanet and Medway district councils, Fire and Rescue, the NHS and others. It was a real privilege to be able to bring together this expertise. The event provided everyone involved the opportunity to discuss their own roles and relationship to the issue of human trafficking. The event was the initiative of Dr. Lorena Arocha, who has been researching human trafficking and related exploitative practices for a decade, both in the UK and abroad.

Key emerging themes from a research project into human trafficking in the South East of England identified the South East as a global gateway and as such, it was recognised that human trafficking cases are most probably underreported in the region. This was explained due to the underdeveloped levels of understanding on human trafficking, the fact that most practitioners learn about it on the job and that accumulated expertise is lost after a case or investigation is closed. These have had an impact on forms of trafficking identified and on practitioners’ perspectives on victims’ and perpetrators’ profiles. Although there are examples of good practice in the region, these are difficult to replicate and mainstream given the current political climate and budgetary restrictions after the financial crisis.

Attendees discussed ways of developing an integrated response to human trafficking in the South East of England and how to achieve becoming a region of excellence in how it responds to human trafficking. There was insufficient time to discuss the implications of these in practice, and as a result, CCCU Sociology will be facilitating further engagement with these and other practitioners in the region. So, keep an eye on these pages for future updates!

Margate ESRC

We here at CCCU Sociology thank the ESRC, the Turner Contemporary (Margate) and, of course, those who attended the event!

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