In June last year, the Danish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to pass a new law making it tougher on beggars. Anyone caught could face an immediate two-week period of imprisonment, with no necessity for the police to give them a preliminary warning.
So far, 52 people have been sentenced under the new law and all of them have been foreigners, reports Kristeligt Dagblad.
The majority are from eastern Europe – 32 come from Romania and at least five from Bulgaria.
A one-sided response
“The justice minister has emphasised several times now that there should not be discrimination in connection with the begging law,” said Maja Løvbjerg Hansen from the legal aid help organisation Gadejuristen.
“But when experts point out that around half of the incidents of begging are involving Danes, the new figures point to the fact that there has been discrimination in the police response,” added Hansen.
However, deputy inspector Jakob Søndergaard told Kristeligt Dagblad that there were Danish cases in the pipeline and he denied any police bias.
A positive trend – or what?
On the other hand, Dansk Folkeparti is delighted with the new statistic. “From the start we’ve wanted to target foreign beggars and would like to have seen the law directed against foreigners,” said Martin Henriksen.
“It is only good news that it has had the desired effect.”
According to Danish and international law, it is illegal to discriminate on the grounds of race. Enhedslisten and Alternativet are both concerned by the statistics. “I hope we’re not talking about discrimination, but I fear that we are,” Enhedslisten’s Rosa Lund told the newspaper.