View Comments
Beggars fined as more take to the streets
Brandon is 18 and has lived on the streets since he was 13. Pictures Bill Hatto/The West Australian

The City of Perth is fining beggars $100 for soliciting money using cardboard signs.

The on-the-spot fines come after an increase in homeless people and others begging on Perth streets, and more complaints from the public about begging.

In a practice known as "cadging", Perth's poor have taken to the streets using cardboard signs asking for cash.

The city is using a signage by-law to issue infringements.

City of Perth chief executive Frank Edwards said it was uncommon for rangers to issue infringements but rather to ask beggars to remove signs.

"Homelessness is a sad fact of life and the city tries to connect people in this situation to services which can help them, so they don't have to beg," Mr Edwards said.

"But we also have to manage our streets and maintain the amenity of the buildings they sit in front of.

"Rangers are tasked with acting on complaints and there have been several from the public about beggars in recent weeks."

The West Australian spoke yesterday to four beggars all within a few hundred metres of one another, in central Perth.

All said they begged to get cash and preferred to use a cardboard sign than to walk up to strangers asking for money.

Two of the four said they had received infringement notices for using cardboard signs.

Homeless teenager Brandon said begging supplemented his welfare payments and "filled in" any gaps between payments.

Brandon, 18, who has lived on the streets since he was 13, said he had been given so many fines for begging that he had lost count.

"I just tear them up and throw them away," he said.

"I understand that the council rangers are just doing their job but I'm just trying to survive."

Homeless rights activist Corey Wilkinson was fined while cadging with a small cardboard sign on the steps of a church last week.

He said the City of Perth unfairly targeted the poor and the vulnerable.

Beggar Harold reads the Bible on St Georges Terrace

He said he knew of at least 20 to 30 people who regularly begged in Perth.

"With the cost of electricity going up and other bills I can't make my Centrelink payments last the fortnight," Mr Wilkinson said.

Corey Wilkiinson begging outside Trinity Church on St Georges Terrace.

Mr Edwards said Mr Wilkinson "was asked politely by the ranger to remove his sign" but refused and was given an infringement. Street worker Mark Reidy, from the Catholic Holy Spirit of Freedom Community, said many homeless and other needy people, including people who did not have access to welfare payments, relied on begging as their sole income.

Mr Reidy said others used the money to pay for their addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Almost unheard of in Perth a few years ago, cadging was now common, he said.

Peter begging in the city.