Law Enforcement Agency - Child Sex Trafficking (LEA-CST)


This study concerns child sex trafficking cases that resulted in arrests or detentions occurring between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021.

What is LEA-CST? LEA-CST is a study of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to collect information from across the nation about the justice response to child sex trafficking. The results will be reported to the U.S. Department of Justice and be available to law enforcement agencies.

Why is this study being conducted? The sex trafficking of children is not a new phenomenon, but it is an increasingly central component of the criminal justice system’s fight against child sexual exploitation.  As approaches to child sex trafficking have been changing, research about practice has been sparse, however.  Little is known about the degree to which recognition of the problem has been increasing, arrest practices have been changing, or services are being offered. This study will replicate and expand upon a previous national survey of law enforcement agencies, the National Juvenile Prostitution Study, which described police responses to child sex trafficking in 2005.

Who is sponsoring LEA-CST? LEA-CST is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, award 2020-MU-CX-0041.

Who is conducting LEA-CST? Researchers at the Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC) at the University of New Hampshire are conducting this study. The CCRC has conducted numerous studies about crimes with juvenile victims. We conducted the National Juvenile Prostitution Study, the First, Second, and Third Youth Internet Safety Surveys and the First, Second, and Third National Juvenile Online Victimization Study. The Fourth National Juvenile Online Victimization Study is current underway. Copies of reports about these studies can be downloaded from our website at www.unh.edu/ccrc.

How was our agency chosen? Your agency was chosen randomly from a list of U.S. law enforcement agencies and is part of a national sample of approximately 3,500 agencies.

Why is our participation important, even if we don’t have any of these cases? Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. However, our study has been carefully designed to include a national representation of law enforcement agencies, and we need your response to make the study results accurate. Even if your agency did not investigate any relevant cases please complete and return your survey. Whatever your agency’s experiences, they represent the experiences of other agencies like yours across the nation.

What will you do with the completed mail surveys? After we receive your completed mail survey, the CCRC research team will telephone your agency if you investigated a child sex trafficking case that resulted in an arrest or detention. We will schedule a short telephone interview with the key investigating officer to gain un-identified information about case characteristics.

What security and confidentiality protections are in place for the LEA-CST data? Agency names, names of individuals, or other identifying information will not be used in any reports, published materials or discussions of the study results. In fact, federal law prohibits us from disclosing any information that could identify any person or agency involved in a case, or any person or agency who responds to this survey. If we call you back to gather more information about a case, we will not ask you for information, like victims’ names, that would identify specific people. Also, information that could link a specific agency with any data gathered will be accessible only to the researchers, all of whom have signed non-disclosure agreements, as required by federal law. Further, federal law states that information gathered for research studies is immune from legal process, including subpoenas, and may be used for statistical studies only. At the end study, de-identified data will be archived at the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data.

What are the risks and benefits to participating? Participation in this study is expected to present minimal risk to you. There are no direct benefits of the research to subjects, although you may feel some satisfaction by providing information on your agency’s experiences to help improve data on child sex trafficking investigations. The findings from the study will be used to directly inform law enforcement policies, investigative procedures, and multidisciplinary efforts related to these types of investigations. 

Who can we contact for questions? If you have questions about the survey, or if your agency has made too many arrests to list on this form, please call the study director, Kimberly Mitchell at 603-862-4533 or kimberly.mitchell@unh.edu. If you have questions about your rights as a research subject you can contact Melissa McGee in UNH Research Integrity Services at 603-862-2005 or melissa.mcgee@unh.edu to discuss them.