Police communication across languages in crisis situations: Human trafficking investigations in the UK

Joanna Drugan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Linguistic aspects of transnational organized crime are wide-reaching in type and impact. These linguistic aspects need greater and sustained attention if we are to understand and respond to crimes such as human trafficking. Transnational organized crime, including human trafficking, can be seen as a modern societal crisis that presents major challenges for policing, justice, and human rights (Beare, 2003). In Translation Studies, globalization has mainly been considered in relation to our interconnected and diverse societies, and the resulting impact on interpreting and translation (e.g. Cronin, 2003; Inghilleri, 2017; Pym, 2004). The corresponding – and linked – growth of the ‘dark side’ of globalization, transnational organized crime, has not received a similar degree of attention (Heine and Thakur, 2011; Bowling, 2009). This chapter draws on original research focused on the experiences of frontline workers in cases of human trafficking in the UK and Belgium (police, border agencies, support services, the Red Cross and others, including specialist linguists) and investigates the barriers to communication which they encounter. By demonstrating the critical role of language for those working to prevent and prosecute crimes of human trafficking, the chapter addresses gaps in understanding in fields including Criminology, International Relations, and Migration Studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslation in Cascading Crises
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780429341052
ISBN (Print)9781138363410
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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