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In 2013, David Blunkett, the then-MP for this part of Sheffield and former Labour Home Secretary, warned of possible riots if the newcomers did not change their anti-social activities.
In Newcastle, meanwhile, some 4,000 Roma are said to have settled and it is to here that members of the Rafael family travelled to set up home. While it is unclear when they arrived, their nefarious activities began in 2010.
Among the last remaining long-term residents of their inner-city street, the comings and goings at the rented mid-terrace Edwardian house raised an eyebrow or two.
First there were its inhabitants, hollow-eyed and gaunt, among them a shaven-headed youth so thin ‘he looked like he was from The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’, the Holocaust movie set in a Nazi extermination camp.
‘The kids speak English as they go to school here, but most parents don’t.’Among their number is a sizeable contingent drawn from the Roma community.
In total, the UK’s Roma population is today put at somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000.
They are drawn from countries across Eastern Europe, the vast majority having arrived since the expansion of the EU in 2004, their numbers boosted following the admission of Romania and Bulgaria.
They will be sentenced at the end of the month.‘Custodial sentences are inevitable, only the length of the sentences will be a matter for mitigation,’ they were told by Judge Peter Armstrong.In 2004, on the eve of the EU’s expansion, I visited Roma communities in Slovakia.The conditions in which they lived were akin to a third world country: decrepit flats, sheds, lean-tos and even mud huts on the edges of towns and cities.When they complained at the lack of payment they were told: ‘In Britain, you have to earn money for Queen Elizabeth.’One who asked to leave the house to go for a walk was informed, ‘You are here to work not walk’ and was prevented from going outside.Food was scarce, consisting of tiny portions of potato and goulash and mouldy hunks of bread.
Last May, when raids were carried out by police and the National Crime Agency on eight properties in the West End of Newcastle, it merited just a few lines in the local press.