Copenhagen struggles with homeless Roma and eastern Europeans

Nearly 200 people charged for illegal camping and begging

The Danish capital is struggling with homeless Roma and eastern Europeans who camp in city parks and beg on the streets.

Copenhagen Police has already charged 194 people this year for sleeping and camping illegally in public spaces or for begging, while last year, a total of 187 people were charged for such offences.

The Roma make up ‘a clear preponderance’ among the charged, contends Kenneth Damkjer, a police commissioner from the police immigration department.

READ MORE: Roma camp west of Copenhagen sparks irritation among locals

Increase police authority
In Denmark, it is not permitted to stay overnight in open public spaces, such as city parks and squares, and neither is it allowed to sleep on privately-owned or municipal properties.

However, the current law allows police to remove illegal camps only from municipal properties but not from public streets and alleys, which is something the lord mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen, aims to change.

“Unfortunately, a removal is often only a short-term solution, because we have experienced that they [the illegal camps] are often rebuilt again either at the same spot or nearby,” Jensen told Berlingske.

Illegal camping is typically punished with a fine, while a repeated charge for begging can carry a jail sentence.