Thursday, 11 July 2013

Questions (181)

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

181. Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions that are open to An Garda Síochána in respect of begging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34081/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The law on begging is set out in the Public Order Act 2011. The Act defines begging as requesting or soliciting money or goods other than in accordance with a licence, permit or authorisation. Section 2 of the Act makes it an offence while begging to harass, intimidate, assault or threaten any other person or persons, or obstruct the passage of persons or vehicles. Section 5 makes it an offence to organise or direct begging, and it is an offence under Section 6 to live off the proceeds of begging.

There is also provision contained in Section 3 (2) in relation to begging at certain locations, including at or near automated teller machines or vending machines, and members of An Garda Síochána may direct a person begging at such a location to leave the vicinity. Section 4 of the Act also gives Gardaí powers of arrest without warrant where there are reasonable grounds to believe that offences under this legislation have been committed. In addition to these provisions, Section 247 of the Children Act, 2001 provides for an offence of causing, procuring or allowing children to beg, and Gardaí have powers of arrest under section 254 of the 2001 Act where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that such an offence has been committed or attempted.

Gardaí also have powers under public order legislation in relation to anti-social behaviour generally and in this regard may identify "hotspots" for the commission of relevant offences which are then proactively monitored. In addition, local Garda management oversees all operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and the policing needs of local communities, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.