Nicu was just 9 when he was trafficked from Romania to the UK by a gang who had approached his family with the promise of work. They paid the gang €200 to smuggle Nicu into Europe. The gang told his parents that after Nicu worked off the rest of the debt for his travel and accommodation, they would receive lots of money in return.
First, he was taken to Spain, where Nicu was introduced to a slightly older boy who taught him how to steal from people in the street. Nicu saw the boy being beaten for not bringing home enough money and he was very scared. When they arrived in the UK, Nicu was made to live in a house in London with 14 other people, adults and children. He slept on the floor downstairs. Again, he was made to steal from people. He was frightened, hungry and it was often very cold. Stealing scared him because people would chase him but he knew he would get in more trouble if he refused.
One day the police raided the property and Nicu was put into foster care. He was sent to school but the other kids bullied him so he started refusing to go. He was still scared of the gang so didn’t want to talk to the authorities, he just wanted to go back to his parents. ECPAT advised that he would be at high risk but he was sent back to Romania anyway. When ECPAT inquired into his whereabouts it was found that Nicu was no longer with his parents and it is likely he has been re-trafficked.
Case Study courtesy of ECPAT www.ecpat.org.uk