More beggars should be prosecuted, argues DF

With the onset of cold weather, foreign homeless may be more worried about finding a warm place to sleep than they are about the police

More beggars should be punished to dissuade foreign homeless from coming to Denmark, Dansk Folkeparti MEP Morten Messerschmidt argues.

According to the Justice Ministry, the number of people convicted of begging has been dropping over the past five years – only seven people have been convicted following 185 reports of illegal begging.

“They are surprisingly low numbers but perhaps it is because they must first be given a warning before being charged with begging. So this needs to be altered so that the police won’t have to do that in the future,” Messerschmidt told the tabloid Ekstra Bladet.

READ MORE: Eastern European police help crack cases

Insecurity from Eastern Europe
“The police are wasting their energy making sure that cyclists have lights on their bikes instead of focusing on a significant problem that is creating insecurity on the streets,” he added.

Messerschmidt added that the police should particularly focus on beggars from eastern Europe who he accuses of coming to the country with the express purpose of asking for money on the streets.

But with the cold winter weather approaching, foreign beggars and homeless may have more on their minds than whether they are going to get nicked by the police.

READ MORE: City Council calls on parliament to help foreign homeless

Nowhere to sleep
Foreign homeless are not allowed to stay in state-funded hostels. In October, the former deputy mayor for social affairs, Mikkel Warming (EL), urged the government to change the rules.

“It is vital that we offer these individuals medical and social support, so they can get better, move on from transit housing and eventually go home”, Warming said.

The proposal has fallen on deaf ears, however, and foreign homeless will still have to find a bed in one of the few privately funded hostels for a warm place to spend the night.