Beggars living in a small town in Sweden now need to buy a permit if they want to collect money on the streets.

The permit, which was introduced in the town of Eskilstuna last week, costs 250 SEK (£21) per person, and is valid for up to three months.


It applies to designated areas around the town, including the town centre, several shopping complexes and other busy areas.

Prospective beggars are advised on the local government website that they can apply for a permit by either filling out an online form, or by visiting their local police station.

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Anyone found begging without a permit, the website adds, will be asked to leave the designated spot and could be convicted of violating the Ordinance Act.

Such a violation carries a fine of up to 4,000 SEK (£342).

Speaking to local media, councillor Jimmy Jansson said he was trying to “make it difficult” for beggars to collect money on the streets by “bureaucratising” the act.

He later said he hoped police would enforce the new regulations on the streets so much so that “a new permit is needed for each day”.

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But local newspaper Eskilstuna-Kuriren reported that beggars had already devised a way to get around the rule – by selling berries on the streets instead.

Mr Jansson said such a workaround was “nothing unexpected” and that he believed it was “a reasonable response to a change in conditions”.

He added: “But if you sit and sell outside a store, the shop owner will soon become angry.”

In Sweden, there has long been a debate on whether the country should enact a nationwide ban on begging similar to that of its neighbour Denmark.

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It comes amid several years of rising migration to Sweden by vulnerable people from other parts of the European Union, particularly Romania and Bulgaria.

The European Union has previously said that a ban on panhandling in Denmark, and, potentially in Sweden, would “clearly constitute indirect discrimination by disproportionately targeting and affecting Roma people”.

Human rights groups and other civil rights defenders have also criticised such a ban being introduced.



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