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‘Oliver Twist’ children used in crime: Anti-slavery commissioner

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Published: 06:42 GMT, Jun 1, 2015 |
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School children in the UK are being used to pickpocket, shoplift and beg as part of criminal operations, the anti-slavery commissioner has warned.

Kevin Hyland said more needed to be done to stop youngsters being exploited by criminal enterprises.

He said “Oliver Twist scenarios” were happening in UK streets and cities.

Home Office minister Karen Bradley said the government had “succeeded” in bringing modern slavery into the open and was “determined to eradicate it”.

Mr Hyland – an ex-Met Police detective who was appointed anti-slavery commissioner in November – said there were 151 convictions for slavery-related offences last year but this was “nowhere near good enough”.

Modern child slavery remained a “very lucrative” business, he added: “These are young children who should be at school,” he said. “We are in the 21st century and yet we have Oliver Twist scenarios happening in our streets and cities.

“I think we all thought that was gone and in the past but actually it’s alive and kicking in London. It’s pure criminality and abuse of children.”

Mr Hyland said he had also found inconsistencies in how authorities around the country have approached the issue.