Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Introducing the Slave Next Door

Birks, Jen; Gardner, Alison


Assistant Professor in Public Policy & Administration


Past studies have indicated that the British public consider human trafficking to be remote from their personal experiences. However, an increase in local press reporting, alongside the emergence of locally co-ordinated anti-modern slavery campaigns, is starting to encourage communities to recognise the potential for modern slavery and human trafficking to exist in their own localities. In this article, we examine how local media and campaigns may be influencing public perceptions of modern slavery and human trafficking. We draw upon a content analysis of local newspapers to review how reports represent cases of modern slavery, and use focus group discussions to understand how local coverage modifies—and sometimes reinforces—existing views. We find that, whilst our participants were often surprised to learn that cases of modern slavery and human trafficking had been identified in their area, other stereotypical associations remained entrenched, such as a presumed connection between modern slavery and irregular migration. We also noted a reluctance to report potential cases, especially from those most sympathetic to potential victims, linked to concerns about adequacy of support for survivors and negative consequences relating to immigration. These concerns suggest that the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ to migrants may be undermining the effectiveness of ‘spot the signs’ campaigns, by discouraging individuals from reporting.


Birks, J., & Gardner, A. (2019). Introducing the Slave Next Door. Anti-Trafficking Review, 2019(13), 66-81.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 12, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2019
Publication Date Oct 26, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 28, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2019
Journal Anti-Trafficking review
Print ISSN 2286-7511
Publisher Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2019
Issue 13
Pages 66-81
Keywords human trafficking, modern slavery, local, media, campaigns, perceptions
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations