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Moderates: 'Grant local powers to ban begging'

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Moderates: 'Grant local powers to ban begging'
A beggar in central Stockholm. Photo: TT
16:33 CEST+02:00
The opposition Moderate Party, led by Anna Kinberg Batra, wants to let municipalities prohibit street begging. The party had already proposed a prohibition on organised begging in April, but tightened the requirement after a long debate at their autumn conference.

Begging dominated the overall debate about crime and punishment during last day of the Moderates' conference in Karlstad.

The party is now demanding that the Public Order Act be reviewed to "maintain public order".

“We do not want to criminalise vulnerable people, but we want to make it possible to deal with concrete and practical order problems that may exist and the only way to really do that is to do it locally and empower municipalities,” said Beatrice Ask, the Moderates' spokesperson on legal policy and a former minister of justice.

Anders Ahrlin, a police commissioner, argued against the local ban.

He feared that the police would get new, heavy-duty powers and be distracted from more urgent work.

“Should we use the 1,000 new police officers that we want to see chasing poor beggars in our cities?”

In April, in a debate article published in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Ask called for a ban on organised begging, as part of efforts to stop ringleaders making money from other migrants.

“The Moderates do not want to prohibit individuals from begging but we cannot accept comprehensive and organized begging in the country,” Ask wrote at the time.

Sweden has seen a surge in begging in recent years, with a study this week suggesting that around 4,000 vulnerable EU migrants are now living in the Nordic nation, with many of them asking for money on the streets.

A ban on organized begging is being considered by the Social Democrat-Green government, stopping short of a blanket ban on begging that would prevent vulnerable citizens from asking for money on Sweden's streets.

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