Re: News/UK: Aggressive begging arrests double

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Subject: Re: News/UK: Aggressive begging arrests double
From: Kinsey Dinan (
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 14:18:26 EDT

I saw a similar phenomenon in the tourist district of Kathmandu, Nepal when I
was there in 1998. Though the women begged individually, they appeared to be
working in groups, as there were always several women working in the same small
area, while the area changed from day to day. All of the women carried small
infants and bowls (to collect money), and I was told that they had come from
India and were operating in rings under the control of male bosses.

Melanie Orhant wrote:

> Aggressive begging arrests double
> by Lucy Lawrence and John Sturgis
> Evening Standard (London), March 9, 2000
> Cases of aggressive begging by eastern European immigrants on the London
> Underground have doubled in the past six to nine months.
> Figures released today by British Transport Police show the number of women
> arrested for harassing and pleading with commuters for money has shot up
> >from 30 to at least 60 a month.
> Police say the beggars are almost always women who drag their children
> around the Underground for hours each day in a bid to gain public sympathy.
> The beggars mostly live in hostels in west or east London. A significant
> number of offences are committed in Ealing and Acton on the Piccadilly line
> and also on the District line. Other beggars are known to commute into the
> capital from as far away as Dover.
> The women work in gangs controlled by their husbands or male relatives, who
> loiter at Tube station entrances for them to hand over the cash. They can
> make about 60 a day.
> Chief Superintendent Steve Hotston, area commander for London Underground,
> said: "We've seen a large increase over the last six months, going towards
> nine months, where the numbers of people begging has probably doubled. Very
> often these are in hostels in east and west London and so consequently we
> realise that they are either asylum seekers or here on a short stay."
> He added: "They know that commuters have got wise to them so they work
> during office hours when regular travellers are at work. They work very
> hard over the weekends and have a day off on Mondays."
> Chief Supt Hotston said police were particularly concerned about the number
> of women carrying tiny babies between carriages when the train is moving.
> They can be charged with endangering safety which carries a sentence of up
> to 10 years.
> "It's lethal," he said. "We are very concerned about the amount of parents
> doing this." He added a squad of 40 officers was tasked to clear these
> people out of the Tube system in an on-going special operation. "This is a
> social problem and we are working with other agencies to find a solution to
> it."
> Many of the beggars are repeat offenders, undeterred by the courts. Some
> police officers privately believe the legal system should be far less
> lenient with them.
> Ann Widdecombe, Tory shadow home secretary, called for a greater use of
> powers of detention to keep immigrants off the streets while they are
> seeking asylum. She told Radio 4's Today programme: "It would act as a
> deterrent to a large number of unfounded claims and solve the sort of
> problems we are now talking about.
> "I think the courts should start to make an example of people. I don't want
> to be harsh if someone is simply sitting peacefully and begging, but if
> people are begging aggressively then that is demanding money with menaces."
> The latest figures come the same week that a London magistrate warned
> beggars with babies they will be jailed if they carry on harassing the
> public.
> Melanie Orhant <<>>
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Kinsey Alden Dinan
Women's Rights Division/Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299
Tel: (212) 216-1858
Fax: (212) 736-1300

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