Eva Stanicou’s father, Iuri, has just come back to their Romanian home after two years in a British jail. Convicted of child trafficking, He sent his teenage daughter to England to beg on the streets. In winter, the Roma gipsy girl, 13 sat shivering on an upturned plastic bucket outside a Co-op in Farnborough, near Slough. Telling people she was cold and hungry, Eva would beg passers-by for cash, and sometimes, if they said ‘no’, Eva would weep.After five weeks, in 2008, local police working on a huge search for trafficked Romanian children in Slough, which has become a magnet for thousands of Romanians, rescued Eva and put her into care. Police raided 17 houses including the one where Eva lived with her cousin, and found the terraces full of children who had been trafficked to Britain to beg, steal, or even work in the sex trade.
The police inspector leading the hunt said the boys and girls were being exploited in a “highly organised criminal network, originating in Romania, which brought them to this country to commit crime.”Weeks later, MP Anthony Steen estimated that there were 2,000 Romanian Fagins in Britain, controlled by trafficking gangs who force them to commit crime. “The children are smuggled through Europe, or are simply flown into the UK with two adults posing as their parents. They have been sold by their family to the gangs to pay off debts,” he said in a House of Commons debate. “A talented criminally active child can earn approximately £100,000 a year,” he said.
Thousands more children have been trafficked from Romania on to the streets of Britain, since, say international charities, such as Unicef. Many of them come from Tandarei, near Bucharest, where in April, 300 police officers from Scotland Yard and the European police force, Europol, started an investigation. They arrested 17 alleged, suspected of making millions of pounds by smuggling 168 children to Slough and London. The jury who jailed Eva’s father, Iuri, at Reading Crown Court, the jury said that he had let Eva to be treated as a slave, without food and forced to beg on the streets, in thin clothes and freezing conditions, for 10 hours a day, the Daily Mail newspaper reported. Her 22-year-old cousin, who flew her from Bucharest, was also found guilty of trafficking.The court heard the idea to send Eva to the UK came from her mother husband, who said they were struggling to feed their 12 children on Romanian state benefits of £50 a month.