Freshly pressed from the Home Office utilising the methodology used in ‘The Economic and Social Costs of Crime’ (Heeks et al., 2018) adapting where necessary to reflect some of the particular characteristics of this offence type. The report6 utilises the QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Year) methodology which estimates the costs of the physical and emotional harms, and also is used in the estimates of lost time and output, as well as costs experienced across the deployment of health services, responding to all aspects of health challenges which are experienced by those who are trafficked, across the spectrum of mental, physical, gynaecological and reproductive health.
Getting a working handle on the economics of Trafficking, the costs incurred both by affected individuals, the loss of revenue in their country or region of source, the costs borne by intervention in countries of exploitation where there is a social protection framework which picks up the tab in physical and psychological health recovery, is vitally important as policies for intervention and attempted eradication are brought to the policy table. Unfortunately it was not possible in this report to analyse the costs directly borne across the criminal justice system in the UK, a matter which some improved data collection and co-ordinated reporting may address in time for the next report.
This is a significant step forward in helping to understand the ‘economics’ of trafficking from the perspective of countries of ‘deployment’ with the impacts on the UK’s ability to respond according to the provisions of the Council of Europe’s action against trafficking in Human Beings and the updated EU Framework on trafficking, being spelt out in the wider economic impacts of appropriate responses on the State budget. The economic health of Nation States being used as the market for trafficked lives, as well as the immediate and very direct impacts on the individuals trafficked is important to see measured, in order to focus efforts for transformation.
There are further economic losses to be adjusted for (the loss of taxes due to this crime type normally streaming its revenue through money laundering processes, and the loss of cohorts of labour from developing a more mature, regulated and vital business / trade dimension in centres of source as well as deployment). But this report is an excellent start for those who need to cut into their Local Government, Business and National Governments to convince around the economic costs of leaving Human Trafficking to fester and grow in the fields, pop up brothels, processing industries, construction sites, nail bars, domestic service and car washes all around them.