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Swedish town launches controversial £21 begging permit

From The Guardian:

A Swedish town has become the first in the country to introduce an official begging permit, requiring anyone who asks for money in the street to pay SEK 250 (£21) upfront for a licence.

Valid for three months, the permit can be obtained by filling in a form online or at a police station and requires a valid ID. Anyone found begging for money in Eskilstuna, west of Stockholm, without one faces a fine of up to SEK 4,000 (£342).

Jimmy Jansson, a Social Democrat local councillor, said the scheme, which came into force on 1 August after nearly a year of legal delays, was aimed at “bureaucratising” begging to “make it more difficult” for people to ask for money.

Not everyone is happy about the idea:

Critics of the scheme have said it legitimises begging and argued it makes those who are reduced to asking for money, many of whom are Roma from countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, more vulnerable.

Tomas Lindroos, of the Stadsmission charity, said the system increased opportunities for exploitation, pointing out that criminal gangs could pay for people’s permit applications and then demand extortionate repayments.

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