Should Begging Be Legal For A Public Place? Essays

Should Begging Be Legal For A Public Place? Essays

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Begging is the solicitation of money or food, usually in a public place, with little or nothing given in return. There are different kinds of begging: primary where the need is fundamental that needs fulfilled immediately. Secondary satisfies an essential but not vital need and tertiary satisfies a need that is not vital. It is important to define these before evaluating which, or if any should be criminalised.

Currently in Scotland begging is legal under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 However in England and Wales begging remains illegal under the 1824 Act. In England since 2003 community sentences can be issued instead of fines. This is significant as people who have to beg cannot often afford to pay fines. Comparing this to Europe, for example, Charleroi in Belgium begging is allowed in the city centre but not on Sundays. In Lausanne, Switzerland begging on public transport is illegal. This demonstrates that although begging is universal jurisdictions take different approaches in dealling with it. This creates a problem because harsher punishment in one area may force the beggar to move elsewhere. Therefore, regardless of criminalisation, I would argue for a uniform approach. This may be difficult worldwide but could be achieved across the UK.

I propose however, that begging should not be criminalised. Begging is somewhat positive because it highlights social problems. Barrett argues, beggars convey a ‘symbolic message that social controls have broken down’. According to the Columbia Survey, receiving requests in person makes citizens more willing to defend beggars rights. This demonstrates those who are confronted with begging are more likely to want to help. Crimninlaistion creates a paradox because givin...

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...gging are valid, there are better solutions than the criminal Law. Agreeing with barrett, the most effective solution is to help individuals generate their own income, by creating of jobs, although this is difficult in practice. The alternative is to ensure beggars get their benefits. Although this is not easy, it is better than criminalization. The symbolic nature of the criminal law becomes eroded by such wide use. With begging in particular, Fernandez argues ‘noncriminal’ intervention would be more effective and less costly.

The arguments on both sides have been eveulated and I find myself firmly in the view that begging should not be criminalised. While admitting there is a problem, it does have some beneficial aspects and would be better addressed outside of the criminal law as it should be reserved for serious matters and not penalise the most vulnerable.

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