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Surviving trafficking, seeking asylum: waiting, status and the state

Carole Murphy (Department of Business, Law and Society, St Mary's University Twickenham, Twickenham, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 2 July 2020

Issue publication date: 26 May 2021




The purpose of this study was to examine the support available from identification through to recovery for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking in the United Kingdom (UK) following the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015.


Twenty-nine semi-structured individual and group interviews were conducted with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) providing direct support to survivors and law enforcement engaged in initial identification, rescue and support.


Thematic analysis identified that survivors' experiences of support and negotiation of state processes is challenging, requiring lengthy periods of waiting. This experience is often compounded by variations in knowledge of processes and systems by front line staff, resulting in negative impacts on outcomes for survivors.

Research limitations/implications

The small number of research participants could be regarded as a limitation but is common in qualitative, exploratory studies. A larger study should be conducted to test these initial findings. The implications propose a revision of policy especially for asylum-seeking survivors.


The study was conducted two years after the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, 2015, during a period in which gaps in processes and support for survivors were beginning to emerge. This study offers a timely assessment of these gaps and argues for a review of policy and its implementation.



Murphy, C. (2021), "Surviving trafficking, seeking asylum: waiting, status and the state", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 41 No. 5/6, pp. 627-642.



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