Research in Brief—Putting Sex Traffickers Out of Business: Combatting Human Trafficking and Prostitution by Reducing the Demand for Commercial Sex

In 2012, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published a national compendium of law enforcement strategies to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The following explores the merits of a demand reduction approach; discusses strategies commonly used in the United States; and provides helpful links to guidance, evaluations, and best practices for implementing demand reduction strategies in jurisdictions.

Human trafficking is a pervasive crime that occurs throughout the United States. While considerable research is still needed to determine the scope and scale of human trafficking, recent developments in determining prevalence indicate that traditionally used estimates are likely very low. Furthermore, given the covert nature of the crime and the rarity of victims who identify themselves as being trafficked, traditional law enforcement interventions and strategies will likely be ineffective in identifying victims and building cases against traffickers. It is, therefore, necessary for law enforcement executives to consider alternative approaches, such as demand reduction strategies, to reduce incidences of human trafficking in their jurisdictions.