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Study on Typology and Policy Responses to Child Begging in the EU

During the last five years, there has been increasing attention in many EU Member States and other European countries to the phenomenon of child begging. Whilst a consensus exists among Member States that child begging needs to be addressed, there is little evidence on what is the best policy approach. Measures adopted so far by national and regional governments have varied - from a total lack of intervention to the detention and/or return of migrant children and their families to countries of origin. Most of these measures have met with criticism from civil society. A number of core questions need to be examined in-depth, including: 1) are all child beggars being forced to do so, and if so, by whom? 2) why have more police investigations not been conducted into the phenomenon? 3) are all child beggars in Europe from a migrant background? and 4) how can policies be implemented in accordance with the best interests of the child?

In order to seek sound empirical and evidence-based answers to these and other questions, this study brings together a consortium of expert civil society partners from across Europe, together with a research consultancy, and coordinated by ICMPD in Vienna, in order to provide comprehensive findings to assess the implications of child begging for guaranteeing and implementing child rights within the European Union and beyond. The geographical scope of the project covers 13 EU Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and two Non-EU Member States (Albania and Kosovo).

Objectives of the study
• to collect and analyse information on the extent of child begging and its prevalence among certain groups and in certain areas of European cities.
• to assess national responses given to different forms of child begging, including legislation and policy, criminal law, social law, family law, migration laws, residence laws, domestic violence, etc.
• to identify local child begging settings and to collect  first-hand information from those involved, including local responses.
• to assess access by children who beg to their rights as per the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, other international instruments and relevant national legislation.
• to analyse to what extent the different situations may or may not fall into categories defined in legislation and policy in the field of child protection and the fight against crime.

Outcomes
• Inventory and analysis of the main policy responses at international, EU, national and local level and of their legislative basis.
• Set of good practice examples in the field of prevention of child begging, child protection and prosecution of adults responsible.
• Detailed empirical typology of recurrent child begging situations, composed on the basis of legally and socially relevant features of the phenomenon in particular settings, as well as public perceptions.
• Evaluation of the appropriateness of international and EU instruments in light of this typology.
• Set of policy recommendations for EU action and national measures.

Duration: 2011–2012
Funded by: European Commission, DG Home Affairs
Project coordinator: Veronika Bilger
Project manager: Claire Healy
Project partners
: ECORYS Nederland BV, ECPAT Austria, Save the Children Europe Group, Salvati Copiii (Save the Children Romania), Save the Children Denmark, Save the Children Italy, Terres des hommes

Publications

Claire Healy and Madalina Rogoz (2012): Report for the Study on Typology and Policy Responses to Child Begging in the EU. Project Financed by the European Commission. Download.