Seeking to understand how criminal networks engage with and influence vulnerable migrants who are trying to cross Europe and gain illegal entry into the UK was never going to be easy. The brief was to try and understand, with as much granularity as possible, the different ways in which migrant journeys are facilitated by criminal networks. BritainThinks has been working on this innovative programme for the last year and has helped government to glean real insight into how organised criminal networks are exploiting and endangering migrants.

Our overall approach has been to take, as our starting point, a series of interviews with migrants, and to use these interviews to identify other audiences likely to yield valuable insights within the landscape of illegal immigration. Before each round of fieldwork with a new audience, we have conducted a full risk assessment - dedicating time to identifying the most appropriate places to conduct interviews, building relationships with local on-the-ground partners and putting measures in place to safeguard moderators' physical safety and emotional wellbeing as well as confidentiality and security for interviewees.