Bangkok steps up crackdown on illegal begging

Photo courtesy of Pattaya News

Police in Bangkok have intensified efforts to curb illegal begging, with the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS) spearheading routine inspections in collaboration with various sectors.

The initiative, announced by Varawut Silpa-archa, involves inspecting for illegal beggars five times a month, aiming to address the persistent issue effectively.

During these inspections, Thai beggars are transferred to the Centre for the Protection of Homeless Persons, where they receive training and job opportunities. Immigrant beggars, on the other hand, are processed for deportation to their home countries. Varawut revealed that nearly 8,000 beggars have been apprehended since 2014, with 30% identified as foreigners.

Despite ongoing efforts, illegal begging remains prevalent in Bangkok. Varawut attributes this persistence to the substantial income beggars can earn, as both locals and tourists tend to give generously. He noted that beggars can earn significantly more than the fines imposed, which range from 1,000 to 10,000 baht.

“During the high tourist season, especially in popular tourist areas, beggars can make as much as 100,000 baht.”

However, it is unclear whether these beggars operate individually or as part of organised groups. Varawut stressed the importance of public cooperation in addressing the issue.

“The public should refrain from giving money to beggars, as public solicitation is illegal.”

The MSDHS minister believes that without the financial incentive, the prevalence of begging would diminish. Varawut urged the public to report illegal begging activities to the relevant authorities through the hotline 1300, emphasising the collective effort needed to tackle the issue, reported Pattaya News.

ORIGINAL STORY: Nearly 30% of Thailand’s beggars are foreigners

Thailand’s bustling streets are teeming with beggars, and the latest statistics reveal a startling trend: nearly 30% of them are foreigners. Social Development and Human Security Minister Varawut Silpa-archa made the revelation today, June 11, addressing a surge of complaints on social media about the growing presence of beggars, especially outside Bangkok’s major shopping malls.

According to Varawut, approximately 8,000 beggars have been arrested between 2014 and 2024. He noted that these beggars often resort to new and emotional tactics to solicit money, such as begging with young children or pets.

“Beggars caught with unrelated children will face criminal charges.”

The ministry, in collaboration with the police and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), conducts street checks at least five times a month to combat the issue. Foreign beggars are deported, while Thai beggars are sent to reception homes for career training. Repeat offenders, regardless of nationality, will face charges.

Varawut acknowledged the challenge of eradicating begging entirely due to the meagre fines compared to the lucrative earnings from begging.

“Some beggars can earn up to 100,000 baht per month in tourist hotspots during peak season.”

The minister urged the public to stop giving money to beggars as a long-term solution, emphasising that ministry officials are available around the clock to handle complaints.

“It’s difficult to remove all beggars because the fines are minimal compared to their earnings.”

Varawut stressed the importance of public cooperation in addressing this persistent issue, reported The Nation.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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