Police Perceptions of Human Trafficking in Thailand and Understanding of a Recently Implemented National Referral Mechanism



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It is estimated that trafficking in persons affects millions of individuals in various countries across the world. Despite local and international efforts to combat human trafficking through identification, investigation, and prosecution, challenges remain. In Thailand—a major transit, origin, and destination zone for human trafficking—the issue is a focus for government and law enforcement personnel. As frontline officials, police officers fulfill an essential function in anti-human trafficking initiatives. This research examines Thai police officers’ perceptions of human trafficking by focusing on adherence to human trafficking myths and understanding of sex trafficking. Additionally, the current study provides an initial examination of Thai police personnel’s understanding of a recently implemented national referral mechanism aimed to improve police responses and the delivery of victim services through interagency cooperation. Data are derived from the survey of 522 current and imminent police officers and six semi-structured interviews with Thai police leaders in the human trafficking space. Results demonstrate the general tendency of respondents to endorse several human trafficking myths, while attitudes toward sex trafficking and understanding of the national referral mechanism indicate an overall comprehensive and accurate understanding. Regression results demonstrate the significance of attitudes toward immigrants, belief/victim blame, and understanding of and attitudes toward human and sex trafficking. Implications for law enforcement organizations, broadly, and the Royal Thai Police, specifically, are discussed.



Sociology, Criminology and Penology