Exploring transitional safeguarding in the context of modern slavery

Exploring the views of professionals in modern slavery victim services, and providing recommendations for improving the transitional period from childhood to adulthood in support services.

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Phoebe Herringshaw
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.

Level of research
Masters
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

In 2021 there was an increase of 20% in the referral of victims of modern slavery to the Home Office (Home Office official statistics, 2022). This rise in victims of modern slavery indicates that this form of crime is an ongoing issue and therefore, victim support is crucial.

Failure to support survivors of modern slavery increases re-trafficking rates and hinders the ability to dismantle the criminal networks responsible because their vital intelligence is lost. More importantly, victims of modern slavery can suffer from severe psychological harm following human exploitation and yet, receive little support for this.

While research has investigated support for child victims of modern slavery, there is a lack of research exploring the views, opinions and challenges faced by professionals in victim services for adult victims, the transitional period from childhood to adulthood in support services and how support can be improved. 

The main aim of this study is to gain an understanding, from the perspective of professionals in this field, of the support provided to victims of modern slavery. More specifically, this study will explore the transitional safeguarding provided from childhood (less than 18 years) to adulthood (18 years plus) for victims. By conducting this research, insight will be gained into the challenges faced by professionals, their perceptions of the current support system, and how these affect the way they work with victims of modern slavery.

Findings will inform what could be done to improve the transitional support for victims, from childhood to adulthood and highlight areas for future research.

The researcher is undertaking a placement with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (IOW).  Recommendations informed by the research will therefore be made on how Hampshire and IOW professionals could improve how they work with victims of modern slavery. 

Research methodology

Purposive sampling will be used for participant recruitment. The participants will be working in the field of support for victims of modern slavery. These professionals will be in different roles, such as health workers, social workers, police officers and management in victim support services and will be recruited Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

It is hoped eight to ten participants will be recruited. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and time constraints, interviews will take place via the GDPR regulated videoconferencing platform Zoom. 

Questions will be broad and open-ended with participants being encouraged to use their own words and express their personal opinions about their general experiences of victim support. As the interview progresses more tailored questions may be asked, specifically looking at any particular challenges or difficulties that professionals face during the victim support process and how this could be improved. 

Research participation

Participants must be currently working and trained in the field of support for victims of modern slavery. Professionals can be in different roles, such as health workers, social workers, police officers and management in victim support services for modern slavery. The geographical area for participant recruitment is Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

If you are interested in taking part and fit the eligibility criteria, please email the researcher at [email protected]

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