The problem of ‘professional beggars’ should be tackled

Friday, 24th June

• WESTMINSTER City Council has had a proactive and progressive policy towards genuine homelessness that must continue; but no active policy to deal with the professional beggars that blight Oxford Street.

The gang masters who run them are blatant in their very visible daily distribution of crutches, walking sticks, and printed “begging” signs.

The beggars themselves are seasoned professionals haunting the exterior of Primark, Marble Arch, squatting in front of Oxford Street shops, or loitering behind unsuspecting tourists at money exchange bureaux.

The police do nothing, the “street teams” just acknowledge the “regular” beggars, while charities and the homeless lose out as passers-by are hassled for loose change.

Recently Queensway off Bayswater Road had signs in shop windows to deter people giving money. The city council could do this as well as take firmer action.

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