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Opinion : Should street beggars in High Wycombe be licensed?

| August 6, 2019

As everyone is no doubt aware there is a big problem with beggars operating in some parts of High Wycombe town centre.

The problem is not just in the town centre indeed only the other day, while driving home from work in my private motor car, my good self spotted several gentlemen of the road begging for money in some of the outer areas of town.

Yesterday an article appeared on a national news site headed ‘Swedish town introduces £21 licence for beggars‘. Apparently the authorities in Eskilstuna, a town of nearly 70,000 inhabitants in Sweden about 90 miles west of Stockholm, are introducing a licensing scheme for anyone who wants to beg for money.

A permit valid for three months costs 250 Swedish Kroner, around £21. However anyone found begging without a licence can be fined up to 4,000 Kroner, around £342.

According to the news article, since the scheme was introduced eight applications for a begging permit have been received and three other unlicensed beggars have been moved on by the police.

So do you think such a scheme would work in High Wycombe?

If the permit applicants were all checked out to make sure they really are genuine and in need then surely it would be a good thing?

Perhaps a special ‘begging friendly zone’ could be created in the town centre where licensed beggars could ask passers by for money? Indeed this is a topic my good self has already written about a few months ago in an blog entitled ‘Should High Wycombe have a special ‘homeless friendly zone’ in White Hart Street?

At just £21 for a licence it would be cheap for those wishing to beg, indeed it’s well know that some of those begging on the streets are earning substantial sums of money with reports of some beggars in other parts of the country earning around £500 a day.

Sadly not all beggars in the UK are genuine, as described in another news article published nationally entitled ‘Beggars on streets are not homeless, they’re fraudsters, say police‘.

Sadly I fear there may also be fraudulent ‘homeless’ beggars operating in Wycombe too and not all the money given goes on food as many of my friends in the gambling fraternity who visit certain betting shops in the town centre inform me.

If a licensing scheme was introduced in High Wycombe and those given permits to beg were checked out and had to prominently display their permits then at least the passing public could give money in confidence knowing the money was really going to someone in need.

By introducing licensing there would also be tight controls on the number of beggars who can operate in a town as well as accurate information on how many beggars were actually plying their trade in a specific area.

Of course it’s highly unlikely that such a scheme would be introduced as, in my opinion, firstly it would take foresight to introduce such a scheme, secondly someone would have to enforce the rules and thirdly it may improve the ambience of the town centre which could lead to financial prosperity for the shop keepers and hard working business people.

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ivor.wycombe or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Ivor_Wycombe.

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