Trafficking for Forced Criminality

One of the newly identified forms of human trafficking and methods of exploitation is trafficking for forced criminality.

This is a growing threat across the EU. Every country has seen a rise in the number of children used to commit crime for the benefit of others. The crimes range from begging and theft through to "County Lines" drug trafficking.

Between 2005 and 2006 1087 Romanian Roma children were trafficked out of Romania from the source town of Tandarei. (Operation EUROPA, Romanian National Police [Project Reflex])

4 criminal Roma networks trafficked members of their own clans and families as well as the children of lower clans.

These children were transported across Europe with 200 being trafficked to the UK about 200 to Spain and 200 to Italy.

In the UK Operation Golf convicted 90 gang members for trafficking, money laundering, benefit fraud and other offences. The investigation led to the formation of the first EU Joint Investigation Team on human trafficking. As a result of evidence provided to Romanian under the JIT agreement, Romania arrested and charged 26 gang members for trafficking 181 children to the UK to force them to beg and steal, for money laundering, being a member of an organised criminal group and possession of illegal weapons (AK47 amongst other guns).

Once in their destination country they were forced to beg and steal. Even 70 year old women linked to the families were forced to sell the 'Big Issue' on UK streets. The Big Issue is a charity magazine where the seller normally keeps half of the sale price, however if you are the victim of trafficking you get to keep nothing. All the money a victim earns goes back to the gangs.

Operation Golf was the first European Joint Investigation Team into human trafficking. It was the first time that we came to understand the huge p[rofits being made by OCG through the use of children and adults through forced criminality. As a result of this work the EC issued a new directive in March 2011 that recognised the forcing of another to beg and commit crime as a form of forced labour. (

The directive is titled:


of 5 April 2011

on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA.

Trafficking for forced criminality is the fastest growing form of trafficking in Europe.

The EC funded RACE Project has identified the following forms of exploitation:

  • Roma children forced to beg and steal.

  • Bulgarian girls trained and forced to pick pockets

  • Mongolians forced to steal high value perfume in Europe's cities

  • German prostitutes forced to steal phones from clients

  • Vietnamese young men and women forced to cultivate cannabis on a large scale with 500 being imprisoned in the UK and who are not being treated as victims

  • Algerian males on French false documents forced to pick pocket, rob and deal drugs.