The Norwegian social research foundation Fafo interviewed 1,269 homeless Romanians in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen last summer without finding any signs of criminal third parties.
“We're very certain that the beggars are not in any way part of organised crime,” Ann Britt Druve, one of the researchers behind the study, told The Local. “They know each other and they travel in family networks and community networks. It's not being organised by any third party.”
As well as interviewing homeless Romanians on the streets with a set questionnaire, Fafo also arranged in-depth qualitative interviews, and visited Romania to carry out field surveys.
“We don't think that all of them would have been able to deceive us to such an extent,” Druve said.
The Romanians, most of whom were ethnic Roma, normally travelled to Scandinavia in minibuses, often borrowing the money to finance their journey, either from family or from the minibus drivers.
They typically earned around 175 Danish kroner each day, saving about half of that to send home to Romania.
“Their families in Romania are extremely poor so this can make a lot of difference,” she said.
It was not, however, enough money to attract the interest of organised crime groups, she believed.
“This is not enough for a criminal network. It's not worth the effort.”
Drive started the interviews in Oslo early last summmer, before moving on to Stockholm, and finishing in Copenhagen in the autumn.