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Beggars linked to criminal gangs

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15:02 CET+01:00
A rising tide of begging on Swedish streets is being linked to a rise in organised crime, according to police.

Criminal investigator Thord Modin stresses that begging in itself is not a crime. But he has seen enough to indicate ties with the crime world.

"There are more children under 18 than ever before begging on the streets. Then there are lots of young people in their twenties acting in groups.

"We have noticed that they use a similar way to beg," Modin told The Local.

The UK has already seen a similar trend, and Modin felt that it was only a matter of time before these groups reached Sweden.

"In the same groups we often find young men, but also several young women, who are used for prostitution.

"This sort of combination is not just here to beg. They cannot make money from that alone.

"They beg, but they also steal, and then there is the prostitution," said Modin.

According to Modin, most of the groups "come from behind the old iron curtain".

"We have found groups from Romania, the former Yugoslavia, Moldavia and the former Soviet Union, as well some of the new EU countries.

Police in Stockholm yesterday arrested nine people suspected of human trafficking. Both the suspects and the prostitutes came from Romania.

Thord Modin praises the police for doing "a great job" but he also adds that they really have no idea how many such groups are currently active in Sweden.

"We have a national police unit that has worked with these issues for three years. But it is possible that some of these groups were here even before that," he said.

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