The West

Revealer of begging rort quits in fear
Had enough: David Bentley. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

A parking inspector who revealed the extent of Perth's growing problem with drug-addled and aggressive beggars has quit his job.

David Bentley, a former police officer, said his City of Perth job had affected his health.

"It was not the job I signed up for," he said. "It was supposed to be about collecting money, organising carpark traffic and helping people.

"But, instead, it was about dealing with used syringes, drug addicts, fires in stairwells and aggressive beggars."

Mr Bentley was a police officer for 35 years before retiring in 2009 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

After battling his illness for a couple of years, he joined the council in what he thought would be a less stressful job.

But he retired in June, citing the constant safety fears and a lack of support from council management.

Mr Bentley's concerns were revealed last Saturday after an inter-office memo he wrote was obtained by _The Weekend West _ through Freedom of Information laws.

The revelations prompted Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi to seek urgent meetings with key State Government ministers to start addressing the problem of aggressive beggars.

In his April 11 memo, Mr Bentley wrote "a hazardous and unlawful situation" was occurring in city carparks every day. He said the "most recent unsavoury practice" was for beggars and itinerants to use carparks as de facto lodgings, drug dens or meeting places.

"Because most of the carparks have no toilets, these persons defecate and urinate in the stairwells," he wrote.

Mr Bentley said beggars had become more belligerent and were targeting the elderly, mums with children, small people and tourists.

"In the past few weeks, carpark operators have observed beggars either approaching or being approached by a well-dressed male person who appears to be co-ordinating their actions and passing them small packages in exchange for money . . . actions make me suspect them to be drug-related transactions," he wrote.

The West Australian

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