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Victim-Centered Investigations

Smart Practice: Full access to victim services should always be provided, regardless of a trafficking victim’s decision to work with law enforcement.

Victims are crucial to human trafficking investigations and prosecutions. In many human trafficking cases, only the victim can explain the coercion and control that is a basic element of the crime of human trafficking. A victim-centered investigation respects the dignity of the victim and adapts, wherever possible, to meet the needs and wishes of the victim. Empowering victims to tell their stories in a meaningful way to law enforcement will encourage them to serve as witnesses in a criminal investigation and subsequent prosecution.


Safe Victim


Visit Faces of Human Trafficking to view related materials. View the Transcript.

The task force structure affords law enforcement access to critical resources that can help them in supporting the victim, which allows law enforcement to focus on investigating the crime. Law enforcement should take proactive steps to support victims within their capacities. In particular, law enforcement should:

  1. Recognize the key role that victims play in a successful human trafficking investigation and prosecution.
  2. Ensure protection of their rights as crime victims and their right to engage in seeing their traffickers brought to justice.
  3. Provide the victim with referrals to task force victim service providers.


For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Section 5.1 Victim-Centered Investigations.