Begging program concludes

Police operation Minta concluded last month with fewer than usual CBD beggars being diverted into welfare programs.

During August and September, local police worked with the courts, the City of Melbourne and welfare agencies to seek more permanent help for people found begging on city streets.

Acting Sen Sgt John Petersen told a safety and security committee on September 16 that, while there was still two weeks to run, numbers were down on previous years.

He said 26 beggars were processed in 2013, 19 last year and 17 this year.  He said police charged the beggars so they could be brought before the courts and then diverted into suitable welfare programs.

“There are no bail conditions, they are not convicted but they are diverted on the condition that they accept help from the Salvation Army and other services,” he said.

Community representatives at the meeting expressed gratitude to local police for their positive and respectful manner of dealing with a complex social problem.

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