Ban on begging lies with state

Mr Liveris said the City of Perth’s decision to write to the State Government to reintroduce a law to make begging illegal was misguided.

‘The reality of the situation is if you read the report the Salvation Army did, it said every person they came in contact with was actually homeless,’ he said.

‘I have never come across someone who is begging for the sake of begging.’

Last week Police Minister Liza Harvey said she had not received any formal notification from the City of Perth regarding the recommendation.

‘On the surface, this appears to be a matter for local government,’ Mrs Harvey said.

At last Tuesday’s meeting, the City passed its recommendation eight votes to one, with councillor Reece Harley the only member to vote against the decision.

Cr Harley said he was not persuaded legislation was the best strategy after reading law reviews from other jurisdictions that enforced the ban.

‘I can’t find recent evidence making begging an offence in law diminishes offences,’ he said.

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said the City had a duty of care to beggars and all stakeholders including residents, business, visitors and its rangers who had recently experienced a noticeable increase in aggression from beggars.

‘This aggression is concerning while no powers exist to stop this activity,’ Ms Scaffidi said.

Ms Scaffidi said begging and homelessness were often ‘mutually exclusive’ and there were examples where people known to the City were begging just because they could.

She said the City had ‘unashamedly copied’ the program implemented in Melbourne that would see those in genuine need connected with the appropriate support services and their fine waived, while the non-genuine would be fined by the magistrates court.

‘The ad hoc approach that currently exists with some providing temporary shelter, meals and pastoral care is great and we acknowledge the homeless that is apparent in society, but the two are not always connected,’ she said. ‘We are not pretending this issue doesn’t exist or turning a blind eye.’