200,000 Roma Gypsies Living in Britain

Channel 4
November 1, 2013

An estimated 200,000 Roma migrants are living in Britain, new research shared exclusively with Channel 4 News reveals.

In 2011, the government said it believed “relatively few Roma citizens” lived in the UK, but it is now thought Britain has one of the biggest Roma populations in western Europe.

It is claimed most of the migrants have arrived since a number of eastern European countries, including Slovakia and the Czech Republic, joined the European Union in 2004.

The figures come from a major new study by researchers at the University of Salford, which concluded the migrant Roma population in Britain was “significant”, “increasing”, and that 200,000 was almost certainly a “conservative estimate.”

Roma are the biggest ethnic minority in Europe, with a population of around 12 million living mostly in eastern Europe, often in extreme poverty and subject to discrimination and segregation.

The researchers cited harsh conditions elsewhere as a significant “push factor” in Roma coming to the UK and reported that the rapid increase in Roma migrants was posing considerable challenges for local authorities, with staff often “overwhelmed”.

In the Page Hall area of Sheffield, Gulnaz Hussain, who runs an advice centre for immigrants, says the number of Roma families has rocketed from just one or two in 2004 to several hundred today.

“It’s a huge population that’s arrived,” she said. “It didn’t happen suddenly, it was a trickling process. It kept going and going and more and more people arrived.”

“The schools are full more or less. I don’t think we could accommodate more people arriving. I don’t think there’s any more room to house further people.”

Yorkshire and Humber is just one area identified as having a significant Roma population. Large numbers of Roma were also found to be living in London, the north west and the midlands.

“Roma are living in specific Roma areas across the country, in certain towns and cities, but not in others,” says David Brown of Migration Yorkshire, which contributed to the research.

“Normally, they’re following the first family who comes and that’s why you get the same ethnicities in the same areas.”
In Page Hall, most of the Roma community are thought to have migrated from just a handful of villages in Slovakia. In other parts of the UK there are significant Roma communities of Bulgarian, Romanian, Czech, Hungarian and Polish origin.

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