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Northern cities clamp down on organised begging

Venice, Treviso and Padua call them anti-racket measures

18 March, 17:12
Northern cities clamp down on organised begging (ANSA) - Venice, March 18 - The centre-left mayors of the northern cities of Venice, Treviso and Padua are making common cause against organised begging in their municipalities, media reported Tuesday.

Giovanni Manildo, mayor of Treviso; Giorgio Orsoni, mayor of Venezia; and Ivo Rossi, acting mayor of Padua, are scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss measures dubbed "Metropolitan security".

The aim is to coordinate actions to fight organised begging across the three municipalities and pursue tougher legal instruments against perpetrators. "The fight is not against people in need...but against the racket that manages a particular system of begging," said Gianfranco Bettin, a member of the Venice city government. Expulsion orders are not enough against the racketeers, he added, calling for police charges of criminal association to be applied.

"I believe it is necessary to...consider a form of criminal offence that makes a distinction between those who exploit begging and those who are the victims," echoed Treviso mayor Manildo. The city representatives shook off comparisons to the former mayor of Treviso, Gianfranco Gentilini of the regionalist Northern League, who earned the epithet of "sheriff" for his actions against immigrants and ethnic minorities. "I have been pursuing these issues for years and I am not a sheriff," said Bettin, a sociologist and long-time leader of the Greens in Veneto. "The (political) right fires (widely) takes issue with all beggars, immigrants, drug addicts," he explained. "The left must take aim: we must hit illegal behaviour, the racket and the people that run it".