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Child trafficking 'is a problem in the area'

Published: 26 Feb 2012 10:302 comments

A SENIOR police chief admitted the force is stepping up efforts to fight a 'growing problem' with child trafficking and exploitation in the town.

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A BBC documentary called 'Britain's Child Beggars', which aired in October, revealed Romanian families from Slough travelled to London to beg on the streets.

Speaking at an scrutiny panel meeting in The Centre, in Farnham Road, Slough, on Monday evening, Jim Reeves, Slough's Deputy Inspector, said the Panorama programme had sparked a renewed push in intelligence gathering.

He said: "A recent call for evidence has led for a forward response to start to understand the problem in the area.

"We are exploring links to Slough. There is a growing acknowledgement that there is a problem out there. The scale is growing and starting to impact on Slough."

Three weeks before Christmas, police and transport officers monitored groups of Romanian travellers using the train. A group of women were stopped for begging on one occasion.

Police intelligence last year also identified 10 teenage girls in the area who were possibly being sexually exploited by a group of boys and young men.

Cllr Richard Stokes said: "Children are being taken from Slough every day into London as begging tools. Police don't acknowledge the link between begging and trafficking, in my view. Our children are coming into danger."

The programme, filmed from December 2010 to September 2011, revealed two of the begging families were from Slough.

After obtaining information from the show's producers, police found the families had left the addresses.

Clair Pyper, director of education and children's services, said: "It is small numbers - we have been dealing with this problem for a long time."

Paul Burnett, interim chairman of the Slough Local Safeguarding Board, added: "Evidence isn't suggesting Slough has a bigger issue than the rest of the country."

Dep Insp Reeves refused to give specific numbers into how many Slough children were affected by trafficking and exploitation.

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