Freo gets tough on ‘pro’ beggars

PROFESSIONAL beggars are being targeted by Fremantle city council in a new approach to homelessness ahead of Christmas.

The council has previously criticised Perth’s attempt to ban begging in the capital’s CBD, promising to not do the same.

Mayor Brad Pettitt says Fremantle wants an outcome that works for both local retailers and people who are genuinely in need.

“The city acknowledges there is an issue with begging in Fremantle,” Dr Pettitt says.

“The primary focus is to try and help people who are genuinely in need of help.

“Of particular concern is that some of these people are professional beggars who are not homeless but are preying on the generosity of people in Fremantle.”

A homeless man living on Fremantle’s streets says rangers have started to ask for basic details including name, age and address and have limited begging spots to William and Adelaide Streets, away from the mall.

He says the new approach allows rangers to identify people who beg to supplement incomes.

“I’m quite happy to give them my details because I’m out here for real so it doesn’t bother me,” he says.

Rangers responsible for implementing the new approach declined to comment. Council media handler Jason Cunningham describes the policy as a more “holistic” approach and expects it will be an official campaign by Christmas.

Dr Pettitt urges people to donate to local charities such as St Patrick’s rather than give money to beggars.

“You can’t stop begging,” our homeless source says.

“It takes an awful lot of guts to sit here and do it to start with. But the people of Fremantle are wonderful.”

by DARCY HARWOOD

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