‘Retail crime epidemic’: Women and children trafficked for shoplifting in UK

Adriana Lima
By Adriana Lima 8 Min Read
origin 1FILE: A retail employee helps put together inventory at a clothes retailer in London on December 1, 2020 ©AFP

Women and children from Eastern Europe are trafficked in massive numbers into the UK and put to work by organized crime gangs to hold out large-scale shoplifting operations.

Police and charities working with susceptible folks say many trafficked individuals are additionally compelled to pickpocket, beg and promote medicine; and that hundreds extra younger asylum seekers arriving in the UK unaccompanied are vulnerable to additional exploitation by felony gangs.

In a high-profile case, authorities say an Eastern European crime gang based mostly in Glasgow has recruited 154 thieves since its discovery in 2019. The gang strategically targets retailers in main cities, together with London, Birmingham, Manchester, Darlington and varied areas world wide. North and Scotland.

The gang’s actions had been reported first from BBC Scotland.

The non-profit group Retailers Against Crime (RAC), which detects and prevents felony exercise by sharing data amongst its members, informed RockedBuzz by way of Euronews that they obtain data from companions about people committing thefts of enormous portions of varied objects.

“The findings of the reports show that these people are traveling around the country committing crimes,” RAC stated.

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Retail crime epidemic

Retail theft is on the rise in the UK, with shoplifting up 25% year-on-year in England and Wales, whereas Scotland noticed a 21% improve on the earlier 12 months, in keeping with a current report from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW).

“This 25% increase in shoplifting is further evidence that we are facing an epidemic of retail crime, which is extremely concerning,” stated USDAW General Secretary Paddy Lillis.

“Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals in stores, and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who steal to resell goods.”

Superintendent Steven Bertram, who leads Police Scotland’s nationwide baby abuse investigation, highlighted their dedication to dismantling organized felony exercise, significantly these concerned in human trafficking.

“These criminals are known to commit human trafficking, which is the illegal trafficking of human beings, both adults and children, for the purposes of commercial exploitation,” he informed RockedBuzz by way of Euronews.

Criminal exploitation reminiscent of compelled shoplifting, begging and drug gross sales made up just below 9% of recent slavery-related calls to the anti-slavery charity Unseen’s helpline.

origin 1FILE: Shoppers stroll previous a Marks & Spencer retailer on Oxford Street in London, Tuesday January 11, 2011. Akira Suemori/AP2011

Shoplifting prices UK retailers lots of of tens of millions

While statistics paint a grim image of the rising prevalence of shoplifting, the implications of this felony enterprise transcend the rapid financial influence.

While shoplifting is commonly seen as petty theft, its improve has additionally led to increased prices for retailers, with £953 million (€1.15 billion) misplaced in shoplifted items in the UK final 12 months.

”More than not, [shoplifting] it’s linked to organized crime and the knowledge being reported day by day entails organized crime teams touring nationwide.’ The RAC informed RockedBuzz by way of Euronews.

“There needs to be a change in the way retail crime, particularly shoplifting, is perceived and we simply need to stop sweeping it under the carpet and presenting it as petty crime.”

Why Eastern European ladies?

The folks recruited by the Eastern European crime syndicate in Glasgow had been primarily ladies, but in addition children, as they’re normally thought-about much less suspicious by retail safety.

While British residents are probably the most generally recognized victims of recent slavery and human trafficking reported in Britain, they’re adopted by Albanians, Vietnamese and Romanians, a lot of whom are right here legally or have overstayed their visas.

The UK is a gorgeous place for many Eastern Europeans, with massive, established communities, higher pay and higher entry to medical providers, says a current Home Affairs Committee report on human trafficking, talking particularly about Romanian ladies victims of trafficking. offers in the UK.

Romania, together with different Eastern European nations, has low wage ranges, widespread poverty, restricted entry to increased schooling and a scarcity of presidency assist, significantly for single moms making them extra in danger.

The National Crime Agency studies a ten.3% improve in trendy slavery and human trafficking referrals in the UK in 2022. Experts say this highlights the pressing want for international efforts to handle the basis causes and penalties of human trafficking.

origin 1FILE: Shoppers at a department of girls’s clothes retailer Dorothy Perkins in central London Thursday November 20, 2008ALASTAIR GRANT/AP

Child trafficking

Estimates recommend that 27,000 children are at excessive danger of exploitation by organized crime gangs in the UK, a lot of whom are compelled to make use of varied ways to entice them into committing crimes starting from shoplifting to promoting medicine.

“Criminals often use multiple tactics, exploiting children both online and offline,” Jess Edwards, senior coverage advisor for baby hurt at Barnardo’s, informed RockedBuzz by way of Euronews.

“Children can be approached on social media and gaming platforms, or in local areas, with offers on how to earn some money.”

“In one case, a child was given a Subway sandwich because he couldn’t afford lunch, and then was exploited in criminal activity to ‘pay off’ the debt,” Edwards defined.

Many refugees and migrants arriving in the UK are children separated from their households, leaving a big susceptible group uncovered, with 20% of circumstances reported by way of Barnardo’s impartial baby trafficking service for felony exploitation involving children from overseas .

Since 2021, greater than 4,000 unaccompanied refugee children have been accommodated in lodges in the UK. Current dangers confronted by these susceptible children embody trafficking, exploitation for compelled labor and felony exercise.

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