Trafficking kids for crime

I saw on the TV last night that Panorama will be presenting a show about how children are trafficked across Europe to beg and steal.

It's nice that the TV and authorities have finally picked up on this problem, indeed the Crown Prosecution Service now has a whole team dedicated to trafficking and a policy about it too.

Trafficking has it's sexy side - by which I mean a side that gets reported regularly, probably because it involves sex, which gives the newspapers the chance to titillate their weird readers and set the tongues of everybody else tutting at the inhumanity of johnny foreigner and/or the vile indifference of men who pay for sex.

What rarely gets reported is the flood of kids who are brought to the UK (and indeed every other European country) so that they can beg and steal.  This isn't reported presumably because then the press would have to side with the feral youth whose crimes they like to gleefully report.  These kids in my experience are usually between 11 and 19 years old - usually toward the younger end as the girls often seem to be married off as they approach late teens.

In my first year of criminal law practice the firm I worked at had a large client base of literally hundreds of kids and young adults who were exclusively female.  They would pick a town or city and then swarm through it picking pockets and stealing from shops.  Inevitably some would be arrested.  A wholly inappropriate adult would turn up to act as the appropriate adult during the police interview.  He (for it was always a he) would be inappropriate because he was usually one of the men controlling the girl who was in custody.

Now I'm not suggesting that these girls were prisoners of the men controlling them for they were not kept locked up, although I'm pretty sure some were beaten for not doing as they were told.  They were children who had been taught to steal from a very young age and were then shipped across Europe (on one occasion they made it to the USA) sans parents stealing everything they could until the courts started to lock them up at which point they would move on to the next country until things died down a bit.

The police were never willing to take any action against the men who were clearly behind the crimes.  On the one hand I can understand that as they would probably never have got the girls to give evidence against the men.  I suspect that the girls had no faith in the police either - on one occasion I recall a group of girls aged 11, 13 and 15 none of whom spoke English all being strip searched without an appropriate adult present or an interpreter.  The police literally had to pull the clothes off of them to conduct the search.  I asked the officers how forcibly stripping a child naked could possibly outweigh the tiny risk of them having a mobile in their knickers (which they did not have incidentally), but was met with a wall of indifference.

I've said it before, if you want to cut crime then you must attack the causes of that crime.  In this case, the place to attack is the men behind the gangs not the children committing the obvious crimes... it would be like fighting human trafficking by locking up the sex slaves for prostitution!


  1. And how long has it been since it was standard policy to prosecute women for prostitution without caring about whether they might be sex slaves? This sort of thing changes very slowly.

  2. I honestly don't know Roger, although I suspect it's less than 10-years.


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