Luxembourgh Times

City of Luxembourg turns against beggars

Luxembourg's mayor wants crackdown on organised groups that may involve human trafficking

Luxembourg Mayor Lydie Polfer recounted being attacked by a beggar tossing popcorn

Luxembourg Mayor Lydie Polfer recounted being attacked by a beggar tossing popcorn © Photo credit: Chris Karaba / LW-Archiv

Organised teams of beggars are causing growing problems in the capital city and the national government should sweep them from Luxembourg City’s streets, Mayor Lydie Polfer said.

“It is necessary to intervene to fight against organised begging because these beggars are also victims of trafficking,” Virgule reported Polfer as saying.

Beggars sometimes harass passers-by when they don't receive money, to the point of following them in the street, Polfer said. The mayor recounted how a beggar threw a whole box of popcorn at her while she walked one evening.

“I was not injured, but I called the police,” Polfer said.

Luxembourg courts have issued lenient sentences punishing convicted human traffickers, undercuting efforts to hold the criminals accountable and protect victims, a US government report on worldwide anti-trafficking efforts said last month. The government also cut funding to two non-profit organisations responsible for helping trafficking victims.

People working at the mercy of trafficking gangs tend to refuse help from social workers offering public resources, Polfer said at a Wednesday press conference.

She called on Internal Security Minister Henri Kox, who is responsible for the country's police force, to increase the government's fight against organised begging. Public hygiene is also degraded by street beggers, Polfer said.

“It’s also a sanitary problem. I shared pictures to the Internal Security minister of what beggars leave behind them that people have sent to us,” Polfer said.

Polfer has clashed previously with Kox. She hired a private security firm to patrol the drugs- and prostitution-plagued Gare area, saying she was responding to residents' complaints that the police had ignored. The spat reached a zenith when a dog used by one of the private squads bit a man, leading Kox to say deploying private security could be illegal.

Begging incidents particularly occur at the Gare station district, City Alderman Serge Wilmes said.

Luxembourg launched a recruitment drive to hire 200 new police officers in each of the next five years amid rising complaints about safety and police officers being overburdened.

Kox kicked off the programme he announced last year at a press conference on Tuesday, saying the new hiring would increase the police force by almost a third.