Children exploited on Belfast’s streets…

JUST back from London and have enjoyed flicking through everything I missed at Slugger central while on the London Eye and watching the hilariously un-PC Avenue Q. Since everything else has been blogged, this caught my eye on the BBC site today. Even in London, I don’t think, proportionately, there were as many beggars as there are in Belfast right now. I’ve nothing against begging – it certainly doesn’t bother me as much as chuggers do – but the Children’s Commissioner is concerned about how many eastern European children seem to be on our streets. The Beeb reports that Patricia Lewsley said she had been “shocked” by continuing reports of children begging at the behest of what appears to be organised gangs. Like I said, I’ve nothing against begging, but if children are being exploited and you see someone in an expensive car come to collect their money, it makes you think twice about giving…

  • Alan Law

    Lewsey has a point and this issue needs to addressed.

    At Christmas (a few days before the 25th Dec), I left work in Ballymena and walked past the entrance to Tesco’s Carpark.

    A child of aprox 4 was in a buggy, holding a collection tin, with Big Issue magazines beside her.

    I waited to see if a parent arrived, after 10mins of waiting and no sign of any parent, I phoned the police, who decided it was now my responsibility to wait with the child until they could send an officer.

    The police arrived within 10 mins and I left. I received a phone call from them to advise that mother and child had been reunited. The mother was in Tesco shopping. The child had been on her own for almost 45mins. During this time several adults, some of them with their own children had placed money in the tin but hadn’t even paused to notice the child.

    When I phoned the police I requested they contact the emergency duty social work service. The officer who received my call said that they would investigate the matter before making any referral. I decided that this view was unacceptable and that social services needed to be involved as this was a serious child protection matter. I made the call.

    It seems that we have forgotten what is important and are happy to stroll past a young child, totally on her own begging for money.

  • joeCanuck

    well done Alan, especially the follow-up.

  • The home grown dipsoes on Castle Street in Belfast are the worst. They can get aggressive, unlike the Eastern Europeans.
    I’ve seen two or three of them at a time hassle and menace women round the side of Tesco’s near Kelly’s Cellars.
    It’s not a pretty sight, or smell, as most of them stink of pish.

  • Alan Law

    “The home grown dipsoes on Castle Street in Belfast are the worst. They can get aggressive, unlike the Eastern Europeans.”

    Surely the point remains the same, children are being exploited by adults. Abuse takes many forms with neglect clearly being an obvious one.

    Children should not be, and we must ensure are not, exploited for money.

  • Sinn Feiner

    Try getting down the Ormeau road from the Police Station to the Bakery you will have to negotiate 3 members of the same Eastern European family the mother and two daughters, on Saturdays I am reliably informed that there will be two uncles as well who roam the road unlike the shop fixed female beggars.
    At the end of begging time they climb into a 2005 Audi in Haypark avenue.
    I think all street beggars should be arrested and if not a National of England Scotland Ireland or Wales deported with immediate effect!!!!

  • Crataegus

    Alan
    Good for you, we tend not to see.

    Child abuse is all too common. I have seen young children sent to school with a packet of crisps for breakfast and parents who drink, gamble or smoke what money they have. Children sent out in cold or wet weather inadequately clothed, parents who actually allow fairly young children to smoke etc etc. Unfortunately some children seem doomed at birth and hopefully we as society can improve their opportunities.

    Really difficult problem though for what do you do? Do you take the children into care, and will the parents just have more? Inadequate and dysfunctional people often have problematic children.

  • Aidan

    The first thing to do is make sure the general public are not giving beggars, whether adult or child, any money. They can’t be encouraged because the abusers and manipulators will move in if it’s financially attractive.

  • Penelope

    Avenue Q rocks!!!

    “It Sucks To Be You* and *Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist* have got to be the most hilarious and true-to-life songs ever!!!

    so often when a severe case of mopery breaks out here on Slugger I am SO tempted to post “It sucks to be you.” but haven’t knowing it would be lost in translation… now I know at least one person would get it 😉

  • Penelope

    back to the subject at hand… I don’t give handouts anymore, but it’s often made me feel difficult and uncomfortable to do so… I used to give money and for a while there I’d offer to buy them something to eat but no, it’s cash they wanted and most likely or not the cash isn’t going to improve their lot but rather to the bottle or up their nose or in their veins and that I cannot abide.

    it saddens me to see children being used, for they rightly tug on our heartstrings

    when you cross over the border to Tiajuana you are instantly confronted by small children begging or selling chicklets gum and other small trinkets… give money to one and you end up having to give some to all because if not you are then followed by them until you do… it’s a horrid sight and feeling!!!

  • At last a commissioner that seems to be identifying and speaking out about issues we all notice and feel powerless to do something about! Well done to Alan – if only more of us had the courage to act as you did then this problem will be addressed all the more quickly. Unfortunately once the gangmasters who run these begging scams are put under any pressure they up sticks and move the children and mothers on to another town, or across the border. My fear is that these children are open to so many other types of abuse from these gangmasters. Social services cannot stand by any longer.

  • Northern Pride

    From that bastion of impartiality, the Newsletter:

    (former Belfast UUP Lord Mayor Jim)”Rodgers said he has seen busloads of beggars being driven into the city centre and collected later.
    “Many of them are being brought into Belfast in minibuses with southern Irish registrations.”

    There you have it, it’s those feckin’ Southerners again scrounging on Ulster’s streets and not giving the local beggers a chance….

  • Oranges_for_Sale

    Sinn Feiner

    “Try getting down the Ormeau road from the Police Station to the Bakery you will have to negotiate 3 members of the same Eastern European family the mother and two daughters, on Saturdays I am reliably informed that there will be two uncles as well who roam the road unlike the shop fixed female beggars.
    At the end of begging time they climb into a 2005 Audi in Haypark avenue.
    I think all street beggars should be arrested and if not a National of England Scotland Ireland or Wales deported with immediate effect!!!!”

    I totally agree. What the hell has this country come to when (presumably illegal) foreigners can come and beg openly in our streets? Its now become common practice to dodge around these human parasites while making ones way through the city. Last Christmas in High Street I had to watch as a group of 8 Romanian women scavenged through a dumpster as I waited on a bus across the street. Its a complete disgrace. In the last year alone I have been:

    Approached twice at a set of traffic lights whilst in my car, by Romany Big Issue salesmen

    Been asked for money by young Romany women who offered me a badly scrawled card which explained their ‘terrible situation’.

    Approached countless times in the street by these people asking for money, usually when Im at an ATM machine.

    Its obvious that these people have traveled presumably at some expense all the way from eastern Europe to totally exploit this country for all its worth, without any intention of doing an honest days work or contributing to our economy in anyway. PARASITES! What type on mentality do these people have when they see their own children as nothing more than devices for making money.

  • Nevin

    Up until now, NICCY has maintained a very low profile re. abuse of children by paedophiles, paramilitaries and street collectors. Let’s hope the new commissioner can make a difference.

  • The Devil

    I think we could all help save on the expense of deporting them by arming ourselves with high powered hunting rifles and shooting them on the streets if we catch them begging.

    We should all be allowed a quota each, that way we can ensure that everybody is playing their own little bit in the peace process and helping to make this a smashing wee Ulster to live in, not only that but by restricting ourselves to a quota we can also ensure that the erradication of social problems will not lead to any sort of addiction where we would be on the slippery slope of dehumanizing ourselves and enjoying the taking of beggar life so much that we end up being no better than them because they have brought us down to their level.

    We should also make it compulsory for people like eastern europeans, travellers, down and outs and members of the public whos eyes are just not right to register themselves so that our communities are safer for our children.
    After registration the objects are give a number to prove they have registered on the offenders list, to help them ensure they don’t lose the number or sell it we should have the number tatooed on their arm.
    I also believe it would be a good idea for the offenders to wear a registration badge on the outside of their clothing to identify them from greater distances that way our children could avoid all contact with them at all, this badge could be an illuminous yellow band round their begging arm so that they can be identified even in the dark.

    I could go on for ages about these tramps but i have to go up to the dole office and slabber at those bastards because my dole money was late again and they don’t give you free petrol for D.L.A cars it’s a fucking disgrace.
    All my mates are already in the club having a few swalls and a couple of bets and i’m up at the dole office trying to get some money off them like i was some sort of fucking beggar.

  • How can The Devil be holier than thou? It shouldn’t BE!