CBD police will be cracking down on street begging this month.
Acting Snr-Sgt Lisa Prentice-Evans said operation Minta would be conducted with the Salvation Army and the City of Melbourne.
She said “begging alms” was a summary offence in Victoria but she fully expected most offenders would be directed into welfare support programs.
She said money raised by beggars would not be confiscated and that only those refusing to establish their identities would be arrested and brought into custody.
Otherwise, she said, offenders would be summonsed to appear in court where their situation would be assessed against available welfare programs.
Acting Snr-Sgt Prentice-Evans said only a small proportion of city beggars were demanding or aggressive with most being content to sit in the streets displaying signs asking for support.
She said it was important to get these people off the streets and into appropriate care.
“We encourage people not to give them money,” she said. “Giving them money is not addressing the underlying issues.”
“It’s not an easy fix by giving them five or 10 dollars,” Acting Snr-Sgt Prentice-Evans said.