MP warns of Roma children trafficked into crime

As many as 2,000 children of Roma gypsies have been trafficked into the UK to be schooled in the art of street crime by modern-day Fagins, the Government was warned today.

Tory Anthony Steen (Totnes) said the children were brought to Britain for the express purpose of committing crimes and "milking" the benefits system.

Sold for up to £20,000 each, they were "debt bonded" to criminal gangs and could net as much as £100,000 a year, he claimed.

He warned it was a new "phenomenon" in Britain which was approaching "siege" levels but which no one had grasped the significance of yet.

Mr Steen called for a new offence of "criminally exploiting others" and for the children concerned to be treated as victims of crime and repatriated with the support of reputable child organisations.

He was speaking in a Westminster Hall debate after last month's high-profile rescue by police of 10 children from a so-called "Fagin's Gang".

The children were taken into care after officers raided 17 addresses in Slough, Berkshire.

Nine have since been reunited with their families who live in the UK.

Police believe the children were being held by organised criminal gangs from Eastern Europe and being forced into a life of crime.

Opening the debate, Mr Steen told MPs: "What is happening is that organised criminal networks are trafficking Roma children into Britain and other EU countries, notably Italy and Spain, and using them to milk the benefit system and undertake criminal activities such as shoplifting, pick-pocketing and ATM theft."

The Metropolitan Police estimated up to 2000 Roma children have already been trafficked into the UK, he added.

"None of them go to school, they are not on social services databases, they aren't cared for by foster parents, they are completely under the radar."

Meanwhile, Romanian nationals accused of crime in Metropolitan Police areas had soared 786% since 2006 and Bulgarian nationals by 250%.

"These gangs are buying children and schooling them in the art of street crime," Mr Steen alleged.

"The twist is that many of these children are under 10 years old and have no criminal liability in this country."

Mr Steen continued: "This is an entirely new form of trafficking because although the children are often with their own family, their family is mortgaged - debt bonded to the criminal gangs.

"The families sell their children for cash and the child is expected to pay off that debt by crime.

"We have hundreds - but no doubt in time thousands - of these kinds of families in Britain whose sole aim is to milk the benefit system and steal on the streets."

Mr Steen claimed London was "a sitting duck" for Roma-organised crime and that it was spreading throughout the regions.

"Intelligence has been received that children and adults are being sold between the gangs in the UK as well as being trafficked into the UK - evidence of sales for amounts of between £20,000 for one or more persons including babies and very young children," he said.

"Intelligence has also been intercepted that reveals a criminally active child can earn approximately £100,000 per year for the organised criminal network that controls her or him."

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker stressed that criminality not nationality was the issue, adding: "We are not stigmatising all Romanians."

He said crimes committed by trafficked children were concentrated in certain areas and police were already taking "robust" action.

Government intelligence suggested there were about 180 Roma children trafficked into the UK, Mr Coaker added, and a database was currently being created to record all victims of trafficking.

Meanwhile, new assessments of the threat posed by organised criminal gangs were being compiled by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency.

Mr Coaker, the minister responsible for tackling child exploitation, said Roma families could claim benefits in the UK but there was no automatic entitlement.

He told MPs the Government was looking at creating "specialist local authorities" to handle care and support for child trafficking victims.

"We are looking at perhaps 40 across the country," Mr Coaker said.

Ministers were also talking to European colleagues about better integration of the Roma community, he added.

Mr Coaker pledged to raise the matter with the Romanian, Bulgarian and Albanian ambassadors on a forthcoming trip to their countries.


Editorial comment:

It is this very kind of behaviour by some members of the Roma community that is the very reason, aside from the fact that they simply are not Roma, that Romanichals and other Sinti, as well as the Cale, while Romani, do not wish to be called Roma or referred to as Roma.

It is high time that the Roma leaders did something against this, or are they involved in this? Then again, would a true leader of his people go about “warning” countries like the UK that his people will be all headed for the Uk in order to “milk the system”, as some of them have done? What is the reason for a “leader” of the People making such statement? One can only guess and wonder, methinks, but it would appear to me to be some kind of blackmail. In other words: “offer me some money and I will see to it that those subjects of mine do not go to your country to milk the system” seems to have been the attitude behind this. Therefore, one can only wonder why none of the “leaders” speak out against what seems to be going on here with those trafficked Roma chave.

Instead of pretending that this is not happening and that Roma do not sell children the honest leaders of the community should do something about it. All our groups have been able to do so far is openly mention that this is happening but again and again we have been attacked then and being called racist and whatever for saying so. This editor was personally offered a small, approx six or seven year old Roma boy in a town in Surrey for sale by other Roma, who, purportedly came from the former Czechoslovakia and who have been living from begging on the streets of said town in Surrey.

So, let's stop pretending it is not happening, for it is. Now let's see what we can do about it.

Then again, those that could do something about it, i.e. those very same Roma(ni) organizations that have the money, are the very same that deny that this is happening. It has been going on for years and years, decades and decades, and has been documented in films even. However, each and every time “leaders” and Roma(ni) academics have tried to deny this.

Instead of denying the existence of this we, as the People as a whole, must fight this and stop the exploiters. How? Well, maybe someone out there has some suggestion, other than the Kliste.

MVS, Feb 2008