Child trafficking and cross-border policing in a post-Brexit EU

P. Fussey1*, P. Rawlinson2

1 Professor of Sociology, University of Essex, UK
2 Associate Professor of Criminology, University of Western Sydney

*corresponding author: pfussey@essex.ac.uk

The paper presents empirical findings from a study of the trafficking of Roma children into the UK, involving the establishment first EU-brokered Joint Investigation Team to investigate the illegal movement of humans in Europe. The paper draws on 15 months of research in the UK, Romania and Bulgaria yielding data from interviews with senior actors within policing and justice agencies, Roma advocacy NGOs, and child protection organisations. It examines problems of policing and protecting marginalised populations across different jurisdictions and how vulnerabilities are exacerbated by diverse and often-conflicting remits of the various agencies involved. One crucial area of focus concerns the UK’s recent moves to exit the EU and its impact on multiple EU-brokered forms of cross border collaboration. Structural issues including poverty and exclusion, and the resulting conflation of the criminalisation and victimisation of the Roma, have not only limited the effectiveness of available responses to child trafficking, but also served to aggravate the increasingly adverse conditions faced by ‘Europe’s favourite scapegoat’. At the same time, post-referendum hostility of migrants within some disadvantaged communities has led to ‘underserving victims’ recast as even less deserving. The paper additionally seeks to progress a theoretical space by linking such analyses to sociologies of mobility, marginalisation and the pluralised rendering of criminalised and victimised ‘others’. Key here are the myriad ways in which (national and organisational) borders are imagined, inscribed, governed and responded to by diverse groups of criminals, victims, criminal justice and social services agencies. In doing so, it draws on a range of theoretical resources including contemporary iterations of securitisation theory that seek to address the complex interplay between human rights and humanitarian agendas with law enforcement approaches.

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