Friday, September 16, 2011

Banning Beggars

President Sarkozy, continuing Claude Guéant's push to blame most Paris crime on "Romanians," has banned begging on the Champs-Élysées from 10 AM to 10 PM. The begging--particularly the "gang begging" that has become common of late, in which a hapless tourist is surrounded and besieged by a group of young people with their hands out, if not actually in the mark's pockets--has indeed become a major nuisance, so this measure will be popular, though undoubtedly effective mainly as an excuse for police to check more identity papers and expel more Romanians. As a victim myself of a theft at an ATM machine by two young people who bystanders assured me were Romanians, though I'm not sure how they could tell, I suppose I should be more enthusiastic about this latest get-tough tactic, but to my eyes it seems rather pathetic, more an admission of helplessness than a genuine response, especially when policemen have been complaining (see Mediapart) about pressure from their hierarchy to faire du chiffre rather than attack the real roots of crime.


MCG said...

Please clarify how the police can attack the real roots of crime. I suspect you do not mean to point at the young beggars' parents.

Ellie said...

I was struck by what seemed like lots of this kind of "gang begging" this summer (near the Louvre/Pont des Arts). I have strong childhood memories of being surrounded by kids waving newspapers to cover the pocket-picking, but hadn't seen it in years, if not decades. I wondered how much my impressions had to do with actual changes in policing and the campaign against the Roma, larger economic trends, or just the fact that I have tended to avoid the main tourist areas during tourist season but happened to be working at the Louvre a bit this year.

elvisd said...

Howza 'bout telling us what those "real roots of crime" are. We've been searching for them in the US for over 40 years, but curiously need millions more dollars in funding to finish the job.

Cincinna said...

Of course it is the parents who train their children in the art of crime and the shakedown. The children are really young, often 4 or 5, always too young to be charged with a crime.
Classic scam-young woman with babe in arms carrying a small sign surrounded by very young kids. She stops someone who tries to help while the kids pick pockets, steal purses of the good samaritain.
This has been a problem in France for a very long time, but has worsened with the mass migrations from Eastern Europe.