Anti-Trafficking Review

ISSN: 2286-7511
E-ISSN: 2287-0113

The Anti-Trafficking Review promotes a human rights-based approach to anti-trafficking. It explores trafficking in its broader context including gender analyses and intersections with labour and migrant rights.

DOI: 10.14197/atr.20121432

Giving us the ‘Biggest Bang for the Buck’1 (or Not): Anti-trafficking government funding in Ukraine and the United Kingdom

Kiril Sharapov


The focus of this paper is on government anti-trafficking policies and funding allocations in two case-study countries, Ukraine and the United Kingdom (UK). The paper discusses specific ways, or ‘vectors’, in which human trafficking has been discursively constructed by national policies and the solutions that have been offered to counteract it. It relies on publicly available information and information obtained via Freedom of Information requests from public authorities in these countries to explore the extent to which anti-trafficking funding allocated by national governments supports or unsettles such representations. A broader definition of human trafficking has been encoded into anti-trafficking policies in Ukraine, implicating migratory pressures and violation of irregular migrants’ human rights as the root causes of trafficking. However, the ability of the government to act upon this definition is limited by the ongoing socio-economic and political crises in Ukraine. This is in comparison to the politicised construction of trafficking by the UK government as a threat from international organised crime and ‘illegal’ immigration. The paper concludes that governments in both countries put their anti-trafficking money where ‘their mouths are’: crime, immigration and victim care in the UK, and awareness raising, victim care and training of ‘frontline professionals’ in Ukraine.

Dándonos el "Mayor Rendimiento al Menor Coste" (o No): Financiación nacional contra la Trata en Ucrania y Reino Unido


Este artículo se centra en la políticas gubernamentales contra la trata y la asignación financiera en dos países a modo de estudio de caso, Ucrania y Reino Unido. En concreto se discuten las vías específicas, o "vectores", que en el ámbito de las políticas nacionales se han ido formulando para afrontar el problema de la trata de seres humanos, así como las soluciones que se han ido proponiendo para neutralizarlo. Para ello se toma la información pública disponible y aquella obtenida a través de solicitudes a los Servicios de Información Pública en estos países, para determinar si el alcance de las líneas de financiación de los gobiernos contribuyen a apoyar o perjudicar sus propias conceptualizaciones del problema. Una definición más amplia de la trata de personas se ha introducido en Ucrania, que identifica como las causas fundamentales de la trata las presiones migratorias y las violaciones de los derechos humanos de migrantes irregulares. Sin embargo, la capacidad de actuación del gobierno en esta línea se ve limitada por la continua crisis socio-económica y política que afronta el país. Por su parte, el gobierno de Reino Unido realiza una construcción política de la trata de personas como una amenaza al crimen organizado y a la inmigración "ilegal". El artículo concluye que los gobiernos de ambos países sustentan económicamente las acciones que más les interesan: crimen, inmigración y apoyo a las víctimas en Reino Unido, y campañas de sensibilización, apoyo a las víctimas y entrenamiento de los "profesionales en primera línea" en Ucrania.


In exploring ‘where the money goes’ within the context of government anti-trafficking policies in Ukraine and the United Kingdom (UK), this article departs from the accepted representations of human trafficking in Western policy-making and some scholarly work as a phenomenon in its own right—‘modern slavery’—which, as its ‘old’ predecessor, can be fully understood and eradicated. Instead, the article approaches trafficking as an outcome and, at the same time, a reflection of structural problems generated by, in Bauman’s words, ‘profit-driven, uncoordinated and uncontrolled globalisation’ and neoliberal economic growth, which ‘does not translate into the growth of equality’.2 Within this context, the paper explores how anti-trafficking policies in the UK construct trafficking as an issue of crime, immigration and victim suffering; whilst in Ukraine, it is explained, predominantly, by low awareness of trafficking and exploitation of Ukrainian migrant workers abroad. The paper argues that the corresponding allocations of government funding serve to stabilise such unilinear representations, rather than approach trafficking as a symptom of normalised relations of exploitation folded into the everyday reality of the modern capitalist way of life, where ‘race’, ethnicity, nationality, gender and immigration status remain social and economic referents of becoming a ‘casualty’ in ‘the inflammable mixture of growing social inequality and the rising volume of human suffering marginalised as “collateral"’.3

The two case-study countries were selected on the basis of their geopolitical location (European Union/non-European Union), their relation to the flow of trafficked people and irregular migrants in Europe (destination/origin), their different approaches to conceptualising what human trafficking is, and the ideological and politicised construction of the UK borders’ vulnerability to the threat of the ‘wrong people’4 coming from countries such as Ukraine. Methodologically, the paper relies on a combination of publicly available information on anti-trafficking government funding allocations in Ukraine and the UK, and, given the scarcity of the data available in the public domain, on the information obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted to public authorities in both countries. Critical discourse analysis5 was employed to analyse these documents to identify predominant themes, or vectors, within national anti-trafficking policy discourses: what trafficking is represented to be, and what solutions are offered within the policy-making discourses. The anti-trafficking funding allocations are then analysed within the contexts of these discourses to explore the extent to which they reinforce such specific representations and ‘truths’ of what trafficking is and how it can be eliminated. The ‘endpoint’ for the policy analysis in this paper is November 2013; any subsequent policy developments in the case-study countries have not been reflected upon.

Anti-Trafficking Policies: What is trafficking represented to be?

Anti-trafficking policy-making arenas represent a space where diverse and conflicting motivations, perspectives and interests by anti-trafficking ‘stakeholders’ come together to produce specific discourses to define what human trafficking is and how to fight it. Formalised in international and national policy documents, reinforced by powerful media imagery of abuse, suffering and rescue,6 and organised around the dichotomies of legal/illegal, trafficking/smuggling, freedom/slavery, forced/voluntary, these circuits of knowledge translate into regimes of expertise and control directed at:

  • Men and ‘women and children’7 exploited for their labour, who, when ‘rescued’8 and assessed to be ‘genuine victims’, may receive care they ‘deserve’, or, otherwise, are prosecuted for any offences they committed and ‘repatriated’ to their country of origin;
  • Criminals, blamed for human trafficking, acting as organised groups;
  • In some contexts, men who pay for sex;
  • Almost never at consumers of non-sexual goods and services provided by victims of trafficking or exploited migrant workers;9
  • Rarely at businesses benefiting from exploitable labour directly or through the various patterns of offshoring;10 and
  • Never at national governments for their role in producing the condition of migrant irregularity through the neoliberal policies of ‘managed migration’11 and regimes of ‘differential rights’.

Individualised and presented as a story of abuse, powerlessness and suffering, such representations are unable to capture the complexities of individual decisions to migrate or acknowledge the location of migrants on the continuums of agency, ‘irregularity’12 or free-forced labour.13 On a structural level, the dominant anti-trafficking discourse fails to recognise trafficking as one of the symptoms of ‘fundamentally illiberal realities of self-conceived liberal societies’,14 in which the distribution of wealth is patterned by rigid systems of social stratification on the basis of gender, nationality, ‘race’, ethnicity and dis/ability.

Anti-trafficking policies, including national policies in the UK and Ukraine, indicate the recognition of trafficking as a problem in need of institutional and policy responses. Problem recognition and subsequent agenda-setting are, however, inherently political processes with actors outside and within governments attempting to shape the agenda. The scope of this paper does not permit a detailed analysis of how the dominant international and national anti-trafficking discourses evolved. However, some of the major contextual influences upon anti-trafficking developments in the UK and Ukraine will be mentioned, followed by an overview of what trafficking is represented to be by the anti-trafficking policies in these countries.

National Anti-Trafficking Policies: Contextual influences

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children15 (Trafficking Protocol) remains the most significant anti-trafficking agenda-setting document internationally. It has been near universally adopted as a guiding framework for the development of national legislative and policy responses. In keeping with the spirit, though not necessarily the exact text of the Protocol, these developments follow a narrow interpretation of trafficking as applying primarily to women and children; trafficked across international borders for the purposes of sexual exploitation, and perceived as victims, requiring assistance and help. Within politicised and ideological contexts of national politics, this interpretation materialised into a crime-immigration-victim assistance triad of national anti-trafficking policies imbued with racial, sexualised and colonial undertones, and accompanied by a media panic of victimhood and rescue.16

At the national level, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were among the first to recognise human trafficking as a problem in need of government response. In the UK, four NGOs—Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) UK—came together to urge the government to sign up to the Council of Europe Convention,17 which guaranteed assistance to victims of human trafficking. The initial framing of trafficking as an issue of human rights, slavery, and violence against women and children coalesced, nevertheless, around vulnerability and victimhood. In response, the UK government has been actively engaging in its own process of meaning-creation by constructing trafficking as a problem of organised crime and illegal immigration within the paradoxical context of the growing reliance on low-paid exploitable migrant labour on the one hand,18 and the continuing racialisation19 of immigration policies, tabloid journalism and public opinion in the UK, on the other. The use of ‘stratified rights’20 as an integral part of the UK government’s attempt to ‘manage migration’, the increasing public hostility towards migrant workers,21 the continuing de-regulation of the UK labour market,22 and the promotion of market and self-reliance values by the government represent some of the key elements of the context within which anti-trafficking policies are being developed and implemented.

Similar to the UK, Ukrainian NGOs played a key role in the anti-trafficking agenda-setting, including La Strada Ukraine, which became one of the leading national anti-trafficking organisations and, through the wider network of La Strada International, in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.23 The complexity of the ongoing socio-economic and political transformations in Ukraine has had a profound impact on the dynamics of internal and external migration, and, consequently, on the way in which trafficking has been conceptualised as a problem. The World Bank places Ukraine at number two among the top ten emigration and immigration countries in Europe in 2010, with an estimated 6,563,100 emigrants and 5,272,500 immigrants (14.4% and 11.6% of the population respectively).24 Similar to other countries with high levels of overseas employment, outgoing labour migration is an integral and indispensable feature of the Ukrainian economy as a remittance-based external source of capital.25 Anti-trafficking policy developments in Ukraine have also been shaped by growing problems of racism,26 bleak economic outlooks, political instability and the continuing displacement of people due to increasing socio-economic inequality in the region.

The role of national framing contexts and of larger frameworks of neoliberal movements of labour, resources and capital globally remain largely unacknowledged within official anti-trafficking discourses. These discourses represent human trafficking as an aggregation of individual acts of deceit, criminality, abuse and rescue rather than a direct consequence of a neoliberal system, which organises social, economic and political life around the neoliberal view that ‘bodies and values are stakes in individual games of chance and that any collective agency (other than the corporation) is an impediment to the production of value’.27 Within this context, the UK government’s suggestion that UK businesses are exploited by traffickers and their enablers to ‘run their trade’28 signifies a normative direction around which anti-trafficking policies in the ‘developed world’ are being built, normalised and stabilised by funding allocations.

Human Trafficking Policies in Ukraine and the UK: Definitional and anti-trafficking vectors

Aradau,29 in discussing the politicisation of trafficking as a socially constructed category, applies the concept of ‘vectoring’ to metaphorically describe a force acting in a certain direction. This article uses the notion of vectoring to foreground some elements of migration, crime and prostitution that get heavily vectored into representations of human trafficking in ‘specific institutional configurations and in economic, social and political processes’. Drawing upon this approach, the following policy documents from Ukraine were analysed and coded using NVivo software to identify key themes, or vectors, embedded in these policies: Law of Ukraine ‘On Combating Trafficking in Human Beings’,30 State Targeted Social Programme on Combating Trafficking for the period until 2015,31 Annual32 and Half-Annual Reports33 on the State of Implementation of the State Programme, and thirty-seven responses to FOI requests submitted to central ministerial departments, regional administrations and police forces.

Qualitative critical discourse analysis has yielded the following ‘trafficking as an issue of’ vectors in Ukrainian policies. Trafficking is a matter of:

  • Low awareness of human trafficking and dangers of labour exploitation among migrants (these include Ukrainian citizens intending to seek employment abroad), general public, and ‘frontline’ professionals;
  • Labour exploitation of Ukrainian citizens abroad including violation of their human rights;
  • Crime and crime control;
  • Lack of employment opportunities in Ukraine as a factor in both external and internal migration;
  • Vulnerability of certain groups of population to exploitation; and
  • Domestic violence and gender-based discrimination.

A number of anti-trafficking vectors—‘trafficking can be eliminated by’—were also identified. These represent the main directions of the Ukrainian authorities’ anti-trafficking work and respond to how the problem of trafficking was discursively constructed in the first place:

  • Development of legislation, policies and institutions at central and regional levels;
  • Law enforcement and crime control to disrupt trafficking and related crimes;
  • Management of external and internal labour migration processes;
  • Labour market initiatives to reduce vulnerability of unemployed persons to forced labour;
  • Awareness raising;
  • Partnership with NGOs;
  • Provision of protection and support to victims of trafficking aimed at ‘reinstating’ their human rights; and
  • Cooperation with international law enforcement agencies.

In a similar way, the following UK policy documents and responses were analysed—Human Trafficking: The Government’s Strategy;34 Human Trafficking: Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group Reports 201235 and 2013;36 seventy-two responses to FOI requests from central ministerial departments, thirty largest (by population) local councils in the UK, and all of the forty-five territorial police forces. All requests were submitted as part of the UP-KAT project research.37 Vectors identified in ‘trafficking as an issue of’ were:

  • International organised crime: with criminals ‘targeting the UK from overseas’ to maximise the exploitation of victims and evade law enforcement;
  • ‘Illegal’ immigration with the majority of immigrants bearing responsibility for ‘illegal’ border crossing and therefore liable to prosecution; a minority of whom—subjected to force, threats or deception—may be recognised as victims of human trafficking;
  • Threat: UK and its borders are targeted by organised criminals and ‘illegal’ immigrants;
  • Prostitution and brothels linked to organised crime networks, and men who pay for sexual services from trafficked women;
  • Victims: naïve, desperate and powerless;
  • Poverty, poor education and lack of employment in countries of origin making ‘some individuals’ more vulnerable to exploitation.

The key anti-trafficking vectors include:

  • Strengthening the UK border—using ‘immigration powers to remove foreign nationals’, ‘closely scrutinising’ and ‘systematically targeting’ anyone suspicious ‘who plans to cross our border’;
  • Targeting criminals and ‘their victims’;
  • Rescuing and caring for ‘genuine victims’;
  • Addressing ‘poverty, war, crisis and ignorance’ in countries of origin via project-based development assistance and cooperation with their governments.

The ‘what’s the problem represented to be’ approach to policy analysis by Bacchi suggests that what policies do not say is as important as what they postulate about the ‘problem’.38 The scope and purpose of this paper do not allow further discussion of policies as ‘fictions’ offering a specific—partial and incomplete—version of truth. However, some of the omissions from the anti-trafficking policies in the UK and Ukraine must be mentioned to foreground the discussion of anti-trafficking funding allocations.

In recent years, critical accounts have emerged appraising the role of symbiotic ‘nation state-corporate power’ formations within neoliberal systems of inequality, which demand and benefit from low-paid labour provided by irregular, informal workers.39 The role of the UK government, businesses and consumers40 in what Berman describes as ‘an economy of “irregular” migration in the interests of global labour markets’41 remains one of the key silences in the UK anti-trafficking policy. The UK government has failed to take any meaningful action42 in response to the growing evidence of UK companies’ reliance on forced labour—directly or through outsourcing and subcontracting.43Anti-trafficking policy in Ukraine, although limited in its capacity to deliver meaningful change given the scale and geography of migratory movements in and out of Ukraine and the deteriorating economic and political situation in the country, introduces a broader understanding of what human trafficking is. By linking it with push and pull factors of migration, including poverty, unemployment and gender-based violence on the one hand, and exploitation of migrant workers and violation of their human rights on the other hand, the policy makes a clear connection between trafficking and broader socio-economic and political processes, ignoring, however, the structural context of neoliberalism which, unacknowledged, constrains what the policy can achieve irrespective of its funding priorities discussed below.

Anti-Trafficking Funding in Ukraine

The Ukraine’s State Programme44 provides for anti-trafficking activities to be funded from a variety of sources, central and local budgets, and in accordance with its three-year funding allocation plan for 2013–2015.45 In the process of qualitative analysis, activities envisaged by the programme and corresponding funding allocations were coded into the twelve categories listed in Table 1. The available evidence suggests that not all of the activities have been allocated direct funding, as they remain ‘mainstreamed’ into operational budgets of respective government agencies. These included some of the key anti-trafficking vectors, such as law enforcement in relation to human trafficking, activities to stop prostitution (as a remit of regional law enforcement units), and a range of activities which can be broadly clustered under ‘labour migration’, such as awareness raising among unemployed Ukrainian citizens and those intending or seeking employment abroad. Table 1 indicates that the largest proportion of the planned anti-trafficking funding in Ukraine is allocated to victim care and assistance, followed by awareness raising, and training of frontline professionals.

The extent to which the actual spending conforms to the priorities identified by the State Programme, i.e. whether the amounts budgeted have actually been formally allocated, is difficult to assess on the basis of the available information. However, a range of activities undertaken by Ukrainian authorities as listed in the analysed documents suggests that there has been a concerted effort by the central and regional governments to commit resources, though limited in terms of their monetary value, to the main priorities identified by the Programme. The effectiveness of these undertakings in preventing trafficking and assisting victims, described in the Ukrainian legislation as ‘persons who suffered from [the process of] the sale of people’, is yet to be evaluated by the government itself or independently.

Table 1: Anti-Trafficking Activities Envisaged by the State Programme of Ukraine and Corresponding Funding Allocations (including central and local budgets, and other sources)46

Activities Envisaged by the State Programme of Ukraine

Planned funding for the whole programme (2013–2015)

Planned funding for 2013





Institution building





Monitoring of implementation





International cooperation





Partnership work with NGOs





Victim care















Awareness raising





Addressing vulnerability





Labour migration





Activities to stop prostitution





Law enforcement






USD 1,004,052


USD 319,848

100 %

In addition to the analysis of the Programme, the following central ministries and departments were contacted to obtain information on anti-trafficking policies, budgets and activities in 2012 and 2013: Ministries of Social Policy, Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, Health, Youth and Sport, Culture, Justice, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine and State Migration Service—all designated as responsible for the implementation of the Programme. Three Ministries—Foreign Affairs, Youth and Sport, and Culture returned ‘no information held’ responses. The State Border Service and the State Migration Service of Ukraine received no dedicated anti-trafficking funding in 2012 or 2013.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs—one of the two central departments designated within the Programme to receive dedicated anti-trafficking funding—provided an overview of its anti-trafficking activities in the first eight months of 2013. However, it failed to provide any information on anti-trafficking funding or budgets. The direct anti-trafficking allocation to the Ministry earmarked by the Programme comprises USD 108,877 for 2013—2015, including USD 34,526 to be allocated in 2013.47 It is not clear whether this funding was in fact allocated from the under-performing state budget.

The Ministry of Health received no dedicated anti-trafficking state funding in 2012 or 2013; medical assistance to victims of trafficking however was provided free of charge. The Ministry was to receive USD 102,314 from the International Organization for Migration to enable the provision of medical services to victims at one of its specialised hospitals.48

The Ministry of Social Policy, as a national anti-trafficking coordinator in Ukraine, received no dedicated anti-trafficking funding from the State Budget of Ukraine in 2012; however, USD 50,183 was allocated from local budgets.49 The Programme has purportedly allocated USD 256,119 directly to the Ministry for the period 2013—2015, including USD 87,693 planned for 2013. But only USD 62,119 was allocated in 2013;50 it also remains unclear how each of the Ministries identified by the Programme as direct recipients of anti-trafficking funding (Social Policy and Internal Affairs) was to benefit from this allocation.

In addition, the Programme provides for USD 111,341 to be allocated from ‘Other Sources’ in 2013.51 However, the national anti-trafficking coordinator has not made any information available on what these sources are and how much money has been allocated.

In terms of its administrative division, Ukraine is subdivided into twenty-seven regions, with all of them designated as responsible for the implementation of the Programme. Subsequently, twenty-seven FOI requests were sent requesting information on the availability of dedicated anti-trafficking policies, funding and activities in 2012 and 2013. Seventeen responses were received: one administration with no dedicated anti-trafficking programme or funding, four administrations where activities were undertaken and mainstreamed through day-to-day budgets, one administration which provided data for 2013 only, and eleven administrations which provided data for both 2012 and 2013. In 2012, USD 35,549 was allocated by ten regional administrations; for 2013, USD 57,698 was planned by eleven regional administrations.52 A range of anti-trafficking activities undertaken or planned for 2013 included: awareness raising on ‘unsafe’ immigration and labour rights of migrant workers among various groups of the population; training of ‘frontline’ professionals; prevention of gender-based violence and violence against children; provision of social services to vulnerable groups; provision of assistance and care to victims of trafficking. To assess the extent of the anti-trafficking law enforcement activities at the regional level, twenty-seven regional departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine were contacted. Twelve departments responded with outlines of the anti-trafficking activities undertaken, which, in all cases, were mainstreamed into their day-to-day operational budgets.

At the time of writing, it was impossible to identify how much money was going to be allocated within local budgets in 2013 against the programme’s forecast of USD 57,671,53 or whether the reduced allocation of USD 62,11954 from the state budget would be ‘topped-up’ or reduced even further; no information was available on USD 144,18355 earmarked as ‘Other Sources’ for 2013. The incompleteness of the available data on actual, as opposed to planned, anti-trafficking spending in Ukraine makes the interpretation of central and local governments’ anti-trafficking funding commitments difficult. However, relying on the information on planned allocations considered through the lens of anti-trafficking activities undertaken and reported by the Ukrainian authorities, it is possible to conclude that the state anti-trafficking funding in Ukraine has been designed to support anti-trafficking activities aimed at four core groups: victims of trafficking; the general public, including vulnerable groups described by the national anti-trafficking coordinator as ‘people in difficult life circumstances’; frontline professionals providing services to victims of trafficking or vulnerable groups; and those facilitating the crime of human trafficking, both individuals and organisations. Activities associated with the first three groups appear to be the main funding priorities of the State Programme of Ukraine, with law enforcement activities funded through central and local operational budgets.

It should also be mentioned, that unlike the UK, where government funding remains the main source of financial support for anti-trafficking activities, Ukraine has been receiving assistance from a range of international agencies, including the United States (US) Department of State via its US Agency for International Development and Trafficking in Persons (TIP) funding mechanisms. The scope of this paper does not extend to non-governmental anti-trafficking funding; however, the data published by the US Department of State suggests that Ukraine, assessed as a tier 2 watch list country in the 2013 TIP Report, received about USD 12 million from the US government in anti-trafficking funding between 2003 and 2011,56 or, on average USD 1.3 million annually.

Anti-Trafficking Funding in the UK

The UK government’s Strategy on Human Trafficking, covering the period 2011–2015, and published in July 2011,57 despite its clear message of impending threat to the UK from traffickers, criminals, ‘wrong people’, organised criminal groups and ‘their’ victims, provides no information as to where the government’s financial anti-trafficking commitments lie. The only time the issue of funding is mentioned is in relation to the annual allocation of USD 3.3 million per year towards victims’ support and care in England and Wales.58 In order to gauge the extent of anti-trafficking activities and of money trails, FOI requests were submitted to the following public authorities: local authorities representing the thirty-largest council populations as of 2010 (out of fifty-five); forty-five UK police forces, and most of the central ministerial departments. The devolution policy in the UK means that a range of powers is transferred from central to regional authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which, together with England, make up the UK. The analysis below is based on the information obtained from the UK central government departments and may not therefore reflect the full extent of funding allocated by authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland through their devolved decision-making powers.

Out of the thirty local authorities, twenty-seven responded including twelve councils with no allocated funding, anti-trafficking strategies or activities; thirteen councils had no dedicated budgets but considered anti-trafficking activities as integrated/mainstreamed into central budgets. Out of these, ten councils did not have a separate strategy and undertook no anti-trafficking activities. Trafficking was represented as an issue of vulnerability, sexual exploitation and/or domestic violence. The remaining three councils undertook a range of initiatives that included intra-agency cooperation, training and development and awareness raising. Only two councils provided details of their specific anti-trafficking allocations, with one council establishing a dedicated Crime Reduction Officer whose remit included human trafficking. Another council allocated funds towards awareness-raising activities among the general public, local businesses, local communities and frontline workers. Overall, human trafficking appears to remain a low priority (if at all) for the councils surveyed, when assessed by the availability of specific strategies, resources, and the range and scope of anti-trafficking activities undertaken. On rare occasions where councils did recognise trafficking as relevant to their operations, it was interpreted as an issue of safeguarding vulnerable children and adults.

Out of the forty-five UK police forces contacted, thirty-two responded within the legally prescribed time limit. Only two reported having dedicated anti-trafficking funding: Thames Valley Police allocating USD 40,750 in 2012, and Metropolitan Police allocating about USD 3.9 million in 2012 and USD 3.9 million in 2013. The remaining thirty forces described anti-trafficking work as part of various work-streams funded through day-to-day policing, investigative and prevention budgets. The majority of forces undertook no specific anti-trafficking activities; where activities were undertaken, they were restricted to safeguarding victims, training of staff, and reactive rather than proactive investigations. The only two police forces with established anti-trafficking units were the Police of Scotland and the Metropolitan Police, with the latter proactively and reactively investigating cases of trafficking and operating across London, the UK and internationally.

Responses received from central government departments are summarised in Table 2, indicating the extent of their funding commitments towards anti-trafficking work.

Table 2: Anti-Trafficking Activities and Budgets of the UK Government Central Departments59


Availability of dedicated anti-trafficking policies, funding or activities

Allocated funding in 2012/13 financial year,60 USD61

Cabinet Office

Not available


Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Not available


Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Not available


Department for Communities and Local Government

Not available


Revenue and Customs

Not available


Office of Fair Trading

Not available


Department for Work and Pensions

Not available


Department for Education

Not available


Home Office

Awareness raising
Policing one-off cost
General policing
UK Human Trafficking Centre
Victim care: contribution to the Salvation Army



Ministry of Justice

Victim care: contribution to the Salvation Army


Department of Health

Awareness raising
Research/victim care (2012–2015)


Department for International Development

Project-based approach, projects outside UK, calculated on a project-life basis, not just 2012.
Two projects in Asia:


Two projects funded via Anti-Slavery International (2012–2013 and 2013–2014)



17,085,534 (including 15,963,942 allocated to ‘Work in Freedom’ project)63

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Projects overseas, in ‘priority’ countries, addressing potential victims’ vulnerability


Gangmasters Licensing Authority

Not available


Allocated funding in 2012–2013 financial year, excluding:

  • Multi-year projects by Departments of Health and International Development
  • UK Human Trafficking Centre funding
  • The cost of operational policing and immigration controls by the Home Office (costs are mainstreamed into central budgets)           



Allocated funding in 2012–2013 financial year, including:

  • Multi-year projects by Departments of Health and International Development, and


  • UK Human Trafficking Centre (HTC) funding
  • The cost of ‘day-to-day’ policing and immigration controls by the Home Office



Funding allocations by police forces, councils and central departments were coded using the following five codes64:

  • Awareness raising: USD 281,545
  • Law-enforcement and immigration: USD 3.95 million excluding (a) the mainstreamed costs of policing and immigration and (b) funding allocated to the UK HTC
  • Victim care: USD 4,890,326
  • Research: USD 733,337
  • International projects (data for multiple-year projects): USD 18,186,257

Given the redaction of the data in relation to one of the key anti-trafficking government agencies—UK Human Trafficking Centre (part of the Organised Crime Command within the recently created UK National Crime Agency65)—and the fact that the cost of policing and immigration control related to human trafficking has been mainstreamed through the Home Office’s central budgets, the data above represents only a partial account of the UK anti-trafficking spending. Overall, however, it appears that the allocation of public anti-trafficking funding in the UK reflects the way in which trafficking has been constructed as a stand-alone phenomenon of international crime, illegal immigration and migration control, victim rescue and assistance, and the project-based assistance as part of the international development portfolio.


In applying critical discourse analysis to explore specific ways in which human trafficking has been constructed in national anti-trafficking policies in Ukraine and the UK, this paper sought to identify the extent to which anti-trafficking money allocated by national governments supports or unsettles such representations. No attempt was made to assess whether the amounts allocated were ‘in tune’ with the number of victims of trafficking recognised as ‘genuine’ by the restrictive criteria set out by national governments. These remain areas for further research, including the issues of accountability and how the outcomes of publicly funded anti-trafficking interventions are measured and assessed. Instead, the paper focused on the discursive construction of national anti-trafficking policies which has been taking place within: (a) complex and inter-related contexts of neoliberal globalisation and its production of inequality; (b) a largely internationally ‘agreed’ definition of what human trafficking is and its prostitution-immigration-crime anti-trafficking triad; and (c) unique socio-economic and political national contexts. A number of definitional (‘trafficking as a matter of’) and anti-trafficking (‘trafficking can be eliminated by’) vectors have been identified in both cases.

In the UK, human trafficking is represented as a matter of national threat, international crime, ‘illegal’ border-crossing, and victim care available to ‘genuine’ victims. Corresponding anti-trafficking measures focus on preventing criminals and their victims from crossing the UK border; targeting, prosecuting and deporting criminals and ‘illegal’ immigrants; rescuing and assisting ‘genuine’ victims of trafficking, and distributing international development aid to run anti-trafficking projects in some of the ‘source’ countries.

The anti-trafficking policies in Ukraine have not escaped the influence of the Trafficking Protocol and of the brouhaha surrounding its development and adoption provoking the spectacle of sexualised violence, unabated criminality and borders crawling with the unwanted ‘Others’: prostitution, crime, illegal border-crossing and victim care form the ‘skeleton’ of the Ukrainian policy. They are not, however, represented as a sign of the impending doom of crime, violence and invasion of ‘illegal’ immigrant ‘scroungers’. Instead, the Ukrainian policy asserts links between human trafficking and socio-economic inequalities and exclusions, both within and outside Ukraine, which produce stratified forms of belonging and citizenship. This, in turn, legitimises and normalises exploitation of deportable migrant labour.

The analysis of the available data on government anti-trafficking spending in both countries suggests, to quote a well-known idiom, that the governments do put their money where their mouths are. The question remains, however, whether governments’ ‘anti-trafficking mouths’ are in the right place, and if not, why and how this could be changed. In the UK, the money appears to be spent on crime prevention and border ‘management’ by way of shutting and ‘offshoring’ the UK border, rescuing ‘genuine’ victims, and allocating development aid to run anti-trafficking projects in countries of origin. Anti-trafficking funding in Ukraine is not only restricted in terms of allocation of funds, but also in its scope, with focus on awareness-raising, victim care and assistance, and training of frontline professionals. The inability of the Ukrainian state to prevent exploitation of its citizens abroad or to improve the economic situation within the country, which could stem and potentially reverse the continuing outflow of Ukrainian workers, has a limiting effect on the capacity of its anti-trafficking policies to deliver meaningful change. These policies, however, represent a good starting platform for addressing the structural dimension of trafficking: exploitation of labour rooted within the neoliberal paradigm, which implicates businesses, governments and consumers in the production of migrants’ vulnerability by capital and state. From this perspective, locating, explaining and eliminating exploitation of any kind of labour—physical, sexual or emotional—becomes a primary concern and, as noted by Anderson and Davidson,66 there is no reason—moral or analytical—to distinguish between the exploitation of ‘illegal’, irregular or smuggled immigrants, victims of trafficking, or racialised and ‘othered’ ‘legal’ migrants whose human rights are violated. How far we are from recognising and addressing the evil of exploitation we have created, instead of actively constructing the evil of ‘being illegal’ or ‘being the Other’, remains an open question. By addressing broader systems of exploitation, could we finally achieve the ‘biggest bang for the buck’?

Kiril Sharapov is Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, Central European University in Budapest,67 Hungary, on research leave from Glasgow Caledonian University, United Kingdom (UK), where he holds a position as Lecturer in Sociology. Having secured funding from the European Commission, he is currently leading a two-year project investigating public understanding of human trafficking in Hungary, Ukraine and the UK. Kiril holds an MA in Human Rights from Central European University, and a PhD in Politics from the University of Glasgow.

Email: and

Please cite this article as:

K Sharapov, ‘Giving us the ‘Biggest Bang for the Buck’ (or Not): Anti-trafficking government funding in Ukraine and the United Kingdom’, Anti-Trafficking Review, issue 3, 2014, pp. 16—40,


In the 2013 United States (US) Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) funding call, Luis CdeBaca, US Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, explained: ‘We aim to support projects that will give us the biggest ‘bang for the buck’ (see: US State Department, FY 2014 J/TIP Solicitation, retrieved 3 December 2013,

Z Bauman, Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age, Polity Press, 2011, p. 50.


Further references to ‘the wrong people’ are based on the language used by the UK government in its 2011 Human Trafficking Strategy. In advocating the strengthening of the UK border as one of the primary means of combating human trafficking, the Strategy suggests that only ‘the right people’ should be ‘allowed to come to the UK’, making the UK border impenetrable for, one may assume, ‘the wrong people’.  See: UK Government, Human Trafficking: The government’s strategy, TSO, 2011, p. 17.

N Fairclough, Critical Discourse Analysis: The critical study of language, Routledge, 2010.

R Galusca, ‘Slave Hunters, Brothel Busters, and Feminist Interventions: Investigative journalists as anti-sex-trafficking humanitarians’, Feminist Formations, vol. 24(2), 2012, pp.1–24; J L Small, ‘Trafficking in Truth: Media, sexuality, and human rights evidence’, Feminist Studies, vol. 38(2), 2012, pp. 415–443; R Weitzer, ‘The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking: Ideology and institutionalization of a moral crusade’, Politics & Society, vol. 35(3), 2007, pp. 447–475.

A term coined by Cynthia Enloe to refer to the infantilised collective subject ‘womenandchildren' who are accustomed to being ‘helped’ by society or men. See: C Enloe, 'Womenandchildren: Making feminist sense of the Persian Gulf Crisis', The Village Voice, 25 September 1990.

Due to the scope of this paper and word limit, inverted commas are used to highlight the contested meaning of a term or concept without providing a discussion of their contested nature.

For labour exploitation within the context of ‘continuum’, see: C Skrivankova, Between Decent Work and Forced Labour: Examining the continuum of exploitation, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), 2010.

See: J Urry, Offshoring, Polity, 2014.

See: M Geiger and A Pecoud (eds.), The Politics of International Migration Management, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

V Squire, ‘The Contested Politics of Mobility’ in V Squire (ed.), The Contested Politics of Mobility: Borderzones and irregularity, Routledge, 2012.

B Anderson and R Andrijasevic, ‘Sex, Slaves and Citizens: The politics of anti-trafficking’, Soundings, vol. 40, 2008, pp. 135–145.

J O’Connel Davidson, ‘Troubling Freedom: Migration, debt, and modern slavery’, Migration Studies, vol. 1(2), 2013, p. 177.

UN General Assembly, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 15 November 2000.

L M Agustin, Sex at the Margins: Migration, labour markets and the rescue industry, Zed Books, London, 2007.

Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, CETS No:197, 2005.

A Geddes, et al., Forced Labour in the UK, JRF, 2013.

Fox, Morosanu and Szilassy define ‘racialisation’ as occurring ‘when the category of ‘race’ is invoked and evoked in discursive and institutional practices to interpret, order, and indeed structure social relations. ‘Race’ in this sense is not an essential trait of migrants, but rather the socially constructed contingent outcome of processes and practices of exclusion… Racialization does not require putative phenotypical or biological difference; it can also make use of (and/or construct) cultural traits as a basis of differentiation.’ See: J E Fox, L Morosanu and E Szilassy, ‘The Racialization of the New European Migration to the UK’, Sociology, vol. 46(4), 2012, pp. 680–695.

‘Stratified rights’ are understood as a system of legal statuses ‘which governs eligibility for particular rights; the actual realisation of rights formally associated with these different locations; and the shifting character of the whole regime both with respect to the delivery of rights and the broader practice of governmentality’. See: L Morris, 'Britain's Asylum and Immigration Regime: The shifting contours of rights', Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 28(3), 2002, p. 410.

European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), ECRI Report on the United Kingdom, Council of Europe, 2010.

See M Wilkinson and G Craig, ‘Willful negligence: Migration policy, migrants' work and the absence of social protection in the UK’ in E Carmel, A Cerami, T Papadopoulos (eds.), Migration and Welfare in the New Europe: Social protection and the challenges of integration, Policy Press, 2012.

A Hrycak, ‘Foundation Feminism and the Articulation of Hybrid Feminisms in Post-Socialist Ukraine’, East European Politics and Societies, vol. 20(1), 2006, pp. 69–100.

World Bank, Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011, Washington DC, 2011, p. 25.

OECD, International Migration Outlook, 2006, p. 140.

ECRI, ECRI Report on Ukraine, Council of Europe, 2010.

E Povinelli, Economies of Abandonment: Social belonging and endurance in late liberalism. Duke University Press, 2012, p.183.

UK Government, Human Trafficking: The government’s strategy, TSO, 2011, para. 19, p. 8.

C Aradau, Rethinking Trafficking in Women: Politics out of security, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2008, p.14.

Parliament of Ukraine, Law of Ukraine ‘On Combating Trafficking in Human Beings’, 2011.

Government of Ukraine, State Targeted Social Programme on Combating Trafficking in Human Beings for the period until 2015, 2012.

Government of Ukraine, Annual Report on the State of Implementation of the State Programme in 2012, 2012.

Government of Ukraine, Half-Annual Report on the State of Implementation of the State Programme in 2013, 2013.

UK Government, Human Trafficking.

UK Government, First Annual Report of the UK Government Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking, TSO, 2012.

UK Government, First Annual Report of the UK Government Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking, TSO, 2013.

UP-KAT, ‘Understanding Public Knowledge and Attitudes towards Trafficking in Human Beings’ is funded by the FP7 EU Programme and led by Kiril Sharapov. For more information, see: (retrieved 6 August 2014).

C Bacchi, ‘Policy as Discourse: What does it mean? Where does it get us?’ Discourse: Studies in the cultural politics of education, vol. 21(1), 2010, pp. 45–57.

D Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford University Press, 2005; R Cohen, Migration and Its Enemies: Global capital, migrant labour and the nation-state, Ashgate, 2006.

Guardian, ‘Who Pays the Price for our Cheap Goods?’ The Observer, 13 October 2013; G Wylie and P McRedmond, ‘Introduction: Human Trafficking in Europe’ in G Wylie and P McRedmond (eds.) Human Trafficking in Europe: Character, causes and consequences, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, p. 8.

J Berman, Biopolitical Management, Economic Calculation and ‘Trafficked Women’, International Migration, 48: 84–113, 2010, p. 86.

Phillips discussing the culling of transparency in UK company supply chains in the Eradication of Slavery Bill by the UK Parliament in 2013, in N Phillips, The Transparency in UK Company Supply Chains Bill: Three lessons, 28 June 2013, retrieved 20 February 2014, or the UK government’s failure to introduce a legally binding requirement for companies to monitor supply chains in its Draft Modern Slavery Bill, see: (retrieved 6 August 2014).

See: S Scott, G Craig, A Geddes, The Experience of Forced Labour in the UK Food Industry, JRF, 2012; S Scott, G Craig, A Geddes with L Ackers, O Robinson and D Scullion, Forced Labour in the UK, JRF, 2013.

Government of Ukraine, State Targeted Social Programme.

The exchange rate of  USD 1= UAH 8,21 (7 December 2013) was used in all subsequent calculations involving Ukrainian Hryvna.

46 The data grouped, summated and presented in Table 1 have been drawn from the State Targeted Programme.

47 Government of Ukraine, State Targeted Social Programme.

48 As indicated in the official response by the Ministry of Health to a FOI request.

49 As indicated in the official response by the Ministry of Social Policy to a FOI request.

50 As indicated in the official response by the Ministry of Social Policy to a FOI request.

51 Government of Ukraine, State Targeted Social Programme.

52 The data have been summated based on the information contained in responses to FOI requests.

53 Government of Ukraine, State Targeted Social Programme.

54 As indicated in the official response by the Ministry of Social Policy to a FOI request.

55 Government of Ukraine, State Targeted Social Programme.

56 Based on the data available from US State Department website: (retrieved 6 August 2014).

57 UK government, Human Trafficking.

58 UK government, Human Trafficking, p. 3 and p. 11. The government awarded the contract to administer this funding to the Salvation Army—‘a Christian denomination charitable organization organized in a quasi-military structure’; for more details, see: (retrieved 6 August 2014). Its stated charitable objective is ‘the advancement of the Christian religion and the advancement of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objectives beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole’; in 2012 financial year, its overall declared income stood at USD 295,871,080; see: (retrieved 6 August 2014). The exchange rate of GBP 1 = USD 1.63 was used in all calculations involving British pounds.

59 The data grouped, summated and presented in Table 2 have been drawn from responses to FOI requests.

60 In the UK, the financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March for the purposes of corporation tax and government financial statements.

61 The exchange rate of GBP 1 = USD 1.63 was used in all calculations involving British pounds.

62 According to the official response by the Home Office to a FOI request, contributions to the Salvation Army by the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office represent two separate, matching, contributions with the total of USD 4,893,260.

63 Including USD 15,963,942 allocated for the project ‘Work in Freedom’ between February 2013 and April 2017 to deliver a programme intended to help prevent 100,000 women and girls from India, Bangladesh and Nepal from being trafficked through economic, social, and legal empowerment. For more information, see: (retrieved 6 August 2014).

64 The data grouped, summated and presented below have been drawn from responses to FOI requests.

66 B Anderson and J O'Connel Davidson, Is Trafficking in Human Beings Demand-Driven? A multi-country pilot study, Migration Research Series no. 15, International Organization for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland, 2003.

67 Research presented in this paper received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013/ under REA grant agreement n° [PIEF-GA-2011-298401].