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Shanghai exposes professional beggars


08:45, August 22, 2012

A man begs in a subway carriage in Shanghai in this Feb 10, 2011 file photo. (Gao Erqiang/Asianewsphoto)

SHANGHAI- Police in Shanghai have published a list of beggars who have been caught most often on metro trains over the past four years, sparking debates about the problem of "professional" beggars.

Posted online last week by the Xujiahui police station of the Shanghai public security bureau urban rail and bus corps, a 22-year-old man, who has been caught 308 times, topped the list. An 88-year-old woman, caught 292 times, was runner-up.

Police officers have tried to help the beggars by sending them to rescue stations, while others would prefer not to be sent to them. The corps has investigated 9,006 cases between January 1 and August 10, with 962 beggars being sent to rescue stations.

It said that some "professional" beggars even rent their children to other "professional" beggars for about 200 yuan (about 31.75 U.S. dollars) per day. The child will be used to help beg in order to gain sympathy from the public.

Some "professional" beggars can make more than 1,000 yuan every day, far better than many white-collar workers, the corps said.

According to the law of punishment for public security and administration, police can detain those suspected of illegal begging activities, such as forcing others to give them money. However, Shanghai police said that it is hard to gather evidence as many citizens are not willing to testify.

According to the law, suspects who raise juveniles or look after those who are older than 70 will not be detained. Therefore, many children and old people are used by "professional" beggars to avoid punishment.

Additionally, they are usually well-organized. Once they have been stopped by police, they will contact fellow beggars via cell phones to help them avoid being caught.

Experts suggest the government should categorize the beggars and treat them properly according to their situation.

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