As discussed in the first article, human trafficking is about exploitation. It is a heinous crime that sees victims undertake work (including sex trade) against their will. Sometimes the work is undertaken under threats of violence against them or their family, sometimes the work is undertaken to pay off a debt that only ever grows larger. The crime rips away their freedom, forces then to work in what are frequently appalling conditions with no hope of escape.
Despite the altruistic view that this crime is by itself an assault on our community’s values, there are other considerations that for political and police leaders about the impact of this crime.
Cost to the public
A 2012 study undertaken through the University of Minnesota looked at the community costs related to teenage girls trafficked in the sex trade across the State (http://www.castla.org/templates/files/miwrc-benefit-cost-study-summary.pdf). The study factored in a series of harms, and their related costs, including:
- Post traumatic stress disorder;
The study concluded that each $1 spent on prevention, intervention and recovery yielded at $34 cost avoidance. Clearly community efforts to identify, intervene and stop human trafficking has a positive economic impact on the community.
However, we should be cognizant that these costs relate to the health care and judicial treatment of the person being trafficked as an offender. Other studies have shown that the high propensity for a person being trafficked to become trafficked again in the future, if they are not provided with support and assisted in reintegrating back into the community. These costs do not examine the social or community costs for associated with multiple recoveries and the associated health and justice costs, not do they examine the recovery and reintegration of the person being trafficked back into the community by addressing the costs associated with ongoing counselling, community support, job training, and community placement. I would suggest that these costs, even at the ratio of $34:$1 are considerably lower than we would find in reality. Despite these being very conservative numbers, they should give us pause on the actual fiscal cost of human trafficking let alone the terrible human cost of this crime.
Loss of tax revenue
Since human trafficking revenue is illegitimate criminal income it is not captured as business revenue or income tax, and tax revenue as a result is lost. In the case of sex trafficking, annual revenues of $250K per victim have been calculated as typical, and which the trafficking victim may well require more community and health support, the off-setting tax revenues do not exist.
In the case of labour trafficking, the trafficking victim is tasked with providing labour that generates income, but since they do so against their will and for no wages, there is also a loss of tax revenues.
The size of this loss is very difficult to measure since the size of the human trafficking problem is difficult to define, in large part because of the lack of resources assigned to the problem.
Any economic model that utilizes slave labour creates an imbalance to all other participants in that sector of the economy. Labour always has a cost for the production of goods or the delivery of services in every economic model. Therefore labour and production costs impact upon the final cost for goods or services. Any company or endeavor that can illegally remove their labour costs puts themselves at an advantage in the market place, allowing them to undercut legitimate and lawful businesses and enterprises.
Therefore, while the heinous nature of this crime may well be a “call to action” for police leaders and communities, the adverse economic impact of human trafficking should place combatting this initiative as priority for all impacted communities.
By developing and understanding the ‘what’ human trafficking is, and how it impacts our communities, police leaders have some unique issue to tackle within their organization in order to respond to the problem effectively.
Next: Creating awareness across the organization.