x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Beggars face Ramadan police crackdown

Police arrested 618 people for the criminal offence last year, the majority during the Holy Month and those caught begging could be dealt harsher punishments.

DUBAI // Beggars will face harsher punishments under a draft proposal submitted by police for a federal anti-begging law. Begging is currently a criminal offence under local law. Emiratis caught begging are taken to court, where offenders can expect a one-month prison sentence and Dh3,000 fine. Non-Emiratis are deported and banned from the UAE for life. The new draft law proposes a Dh10,000 fine and up to three months in prison.

"We need a Federal law to regulate the penalties for beggars, and stiffer regulations to combat this trend," said Major Gen Khamis al Mazeina, the Dubai deputy police chief. "The proposal is being reviewed by the Ministry of Justice." Emiratis will also be sent for social rehabilitation and occupational training under the new law. Anyone who houses, aids or encourages a person in the act of begging will also face penalties. Dubai police initiate anti-begging campaigns every Ramadan.

Police arrested 618 people on begging charges last year, the majority during the Holy Month. This year's campaign started on July 25. Police patrols will target mosques and supermarkets where beggars congregate across Dubai. wissa@thenational.ae