Professor Kate Moss
Professor of Criminal Justice
University of Wolverhampton
The Children Rough Sleepers Project is a pioneering € 1.25 M research project financed
by the EU Daphne Programme. Its objective is to conduct Europewide studies into the
phenomenon of runaway and homeless minors who sleep rough, as it is known that the
numbers of these children have risen markedly over the last 20 years and that existing
preventative protection measures are not benefiting them. Led by the University of
Wolverhampton and in collaboration with 10 European partners, the focus of these
investigations is upon vulnerable children who, besides being often victims of sexual
exploitation or abuse, can also be perpetrators of crime in order to survive on the
streets in urban centres across Europe.
The researchers will interview children from the streets. Concomitantly, and with the
aim of sharing their findings, they will also consult closely with professionals and
organizations such as social workers, health and education staff, police as well as victim
support services working in the field. Moreover, in order to assess the similarities and
differences amongst children rough sleepers (CRS) throughout Europe, the project
necessarily treats of a joint study which includes partners from the UK, the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and
It is with this common objective in view that the team of experts is researching the
scale of the problem as well as evaluating the efficacy, or the lack thereof, of those
services which currently address CRS-related issues. Included among its activities is the
development of an online virtual network tailored to support those organizations and
public authorities which work with CRS, whether hands-on in the form of NGOs or by
way of policy development, as well as to generate synergies for their future
cooperation. The team will also organize workshops and conferences designed to
stimulate knowledge transfer and encourage the sharing of best practices. To this end
they have created a website, are presently compiling ‘what works’ guides and
publishing monthly online newsletters as well as structuring training workshops
destined to around 2,100 key professionals, children, young people and community
A fundamental point underpinning the urgency of this research includes the sheer
scope of the issue of missing, runaway and homeless children - a problem both
extensive and ever increasing. It seeks to highlight the lack of basic systems in countries
to adequately respond to emerging CRS needs and underscores the urgency to develop
and update a Europewide network encompassing the widest possible membership.
Furthermore, it points to the unsatisfactory situation today of insufficient multistakeholder collaboration and guidance. Stakeholders fail to share their information, all
operating within different workplace cultures and as such lacking a single set of
guidelines which render decisions concerning children uniform. A direct consequence
therefore is limited knowledge of specialized support services in the EU as well as gaps
in service provision to missing and homeless minors. All this spells significant gaps in
research, in understanding as well as in specialist support services and procedures
respecting CRS.
Ongoing research also strives to identify better ways to support families. It begs
clarification on the criteria by which certain disappearances are reported to the police
and on how related services are managed. Added studies are required to ascertain
whether, and to determine how, scenarios are constructed by different stakeholders,
homelessness/disappearances, how these affect investigative responses and how they
help in developing search strategies. More in-depth examination is also required to
understand the responsibility of statutory, voluntary and private sector care providers.
This demonstrates our preference for a multi-stakeholder risk assessment methods and
procedures, including the exchange of information among all players.
Many of the EU member states share these problems, which have of late increased as a
direct result of austerity measures. For this reason, the 10 countries involved in the
project will be working together to identify EU best practices, appreciate target group
priorities as well as improve services hitherto developed to meet the needs of this
vulnerable group and so to achieve its empowerment through knowledge transfer,
network development and awareness raising.