Meet Alice. She is a four-year-old child out on London’s Oxford street begging hours on end, day in, day out. Alice is just one of Britain’s Gypsy child beggars, and she can earn hundreds of pounds a day.
For months, BBC Panorama filmed them as they worked the streets during last winter’s snow, sleet and rain. The footage, more than 100 hours of it – is like watching Oliver Twist for the 21st Century.
Alice, wearing a white headscarf, used a telephone box as a toilet and scavenged for food from McDonald’s as she begged in all weathers. A restaurant owner in the area said that some child beggars make £500 a day. For her part, Alice hands every last penny to a minder.
This investigation uncovers the truth about these children. Reporter John Sweeney tracks down the begging gangs to luxury homes in Romania, where he confronts the adults forcing the children to beg.