Trafficking experts from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania, Lithuania, France, Denmark, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria took part in the first event of its kind in the UK. 

The Response Against Criminal Exploitation in Europe Project, a two-year initiative led by Anti-Slavery International, ECPAT UK and partners, aims to improve knowledge and responses to human trafficking for the purposes of forced criminal exploitation and forced begging in Europe.

The London event was the third in a series of European training seminars that included Bulgaria and the Netherlands and features practitioners from across law enforcement, social services, lawyers and frontline NGOs working with adult and child victims of trafficking.

High-profile speakers shared their experiences in tackling this type of exploitation from a range of organisations, including EUROPOL, the Metropolitan Police, the Dutch Police Academy, the Austrian Federal Criminal Police, the Czech Police, the Vietnamese Mental Health Association and the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland.

ECPAT UK presented its experience of working with children who have been trafficked from Vietnam in order to be exploited as ‘gardeners’ in cannabis factories in the UK – an issue that increased by 58% from 2011 to 2012 making Vietnam the largest source country for children trafficked to the UK.

 The training examined the challenges and issues facing European Union member states, such as the trafficking of children for forced begging and petty crime, as well as emerging and growing trends of sham marriages, forced selling of drugs and benefit fraud.

As well as exploring the problems, the seminar sought to identify best practice across the EU in prosecuting the organised criminal networks behind these crimes and identifying and supporting victims.

The training followed the publication of the RACE Project’s Victim or Criminal research, which looks at trafficking for forced criminality and begging in the UK.