There were 1,196 human trafficking offenses in the U.S. reported to law enforcement in 2016, according to the FBI’s annual “Crime in the U.S.” report released on Sept. 25.
The majority (1,007) of reported trafficking incidents involved commercial sex acts, with the remaining 189 cases related to involuntary servitude.
The trafficking data in the annual crime report is based on the national Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) human trafficking data collection.
“Of the 18,481 city, county, university and college, state, tribal and federal agencies eligible to participate in the UCR Program, 16,782 submitted data in 2016,” the FBI noted.
A little more than half (654) of the cases were cleared.
“An offense is cleared by arrest, or solved for crime reporting purposes, when at least one person is (1) arrested, (2) charged with the commission of the offense and (3) turned over to the court for prosecution,” the report explained.
The FBI said the data only reflects “the offenses and arrests recorded by state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs)” and “should not be interpreted as a definitive statement of the level or characteristics of human trafficking as a whole.”
Texas reported the most trafficking incidents in 2016 (257), followed by Minnesota (235), Nevada (140), Louisiana (123), Florida (105), Tennessee (55), Oklahoma (46), Wisconsin (35) and Colorado (34).
The remaining 25 states for which data is available reported 24 or fewer cases. Five of these states (Delaware, Mississippi, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah) reported no trafficking offenses in 2016.
No data was available for the District of Columbia and 16 U.S. states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
This is the result either of a state not including instances of trafficking in its data collection or using collection methodologies deemed out of compliance with national UCR guidelines.
“It is important to note that these data represent only one view of a complex issue – the law enforcement perspective. However, due to the nature of human trafficking, many of these crimes are never reported to the local, state, tribal and federal LEAs that investigate them,” the report stated. “In addition to the law enforcement facet in fighting these crimes, there are victim service organizations whose mission it is to serve the needs of the victims of human trafficking. In order to have the complete picture of human trafficking, it would be necessary to gather information from all of these sources.”
FBI Director Chris Wray emphasized the importance of improving crime data collection in his introductory message. “Information that is accurate, accessible and complete enhances and informs conversations about policing. It helps us learn how and why crimes occur and what we can do to prevent them from happening in the first place. It helps law enforcement to be more proactive, helps communities use resources more strategically, and it improves the safety of our nation’s citizens and law enforcement officers.”