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UK trafficking - analysing top source countries

This project analysed the situation in top source countries for trafficking into the UK, accounting for up to 90% of cases.

Over the past five years, over 75% of people identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK represent only ten nationalities. Including UK nationals, representing 20%, the top 20 nationalities make up over 90% of referrals to the authorities

This has implications for understanding the factors pushing people into situations of exploitation, as well as considering appropriate prevention and response efforts.

More effective responses in the UK and origin countries will have positive effects both on survivors’ recovery and on the manifestation of modern slavery in the UK. Conversely, less effective responses are likely to increase risks of exploitation in the origin country, in transit, and in the UK, as well as inhibiting recovery and reintegration.

Because recognition as a victim of modern slavery by the UK authorities doesn’t necessarily entail leave to remain in the UK, many people supported in the UK return, or are returned, to their countries of origin. Accounting for the conditions to which these people are returning is central to the government’s obligations to them and should be factored into decision-making processes including, for instance, the granting of refugee status. The contextual factors driving exploitation and trafficking also have implications for service provision in the UK; effective anti-slavery support must be responsive to individual survivors’ backgrounds and journeys.

The Rights Lab and the Wilberforce Institute carried out research interrogating the legal, policy, economic and social situation in these top 20 countries. The research aimed to understand the factors that make nationals from particular countries vulnerable to being trafficked and exploited, including in the UK, and their implications for the UK’s national and international response.

For these 20 countries, the project reviewed international commitments and obligations; political, economic, social, and cultural contexts; national laws and policies relating to modern slavery and their implementation; modern slavery profiles; key factors contributing to vulnerability and modern slavery; the presence of social support and assistance systems that help to address vulnerabilities; and international coordination mechanisms. This provided the foundation for comparative analysis exploring the differences and similarities across different country contexts.

From these 20 countries, the research examined the source country contexts, providing a more nuanced perspective on the issues identified in the 20-country comparative analysis, testing initial findings, and exploring connections between specific anti-slavery frameworks and the wider areas of law and policy.

Project lead: Dr Katarina Schwarz, Rights Lab, University of Nottingham.

Project Partners: Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham, Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull.