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

      Dando, Coral J.; Walsh, Dave; Brierley, Robin; University of Derby (Public Library of Science, 2016-05-05)
      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.