The problem of begging is a priority for the Brussels Public Prosecutor. Ine Van Wymersch, the spokeswoman for the Brussels Public Prosecutor says that it has been for some years. This comes after Brussels politicians have spoken, through several media outlets,of their concerns as to the increase in the number of beggars within Brussels.
She stated, “Responsible judges in this sphere, have been working upon the issue for a long time now, as much in relation to adults as children. There are also clear guidelines which have been referred to in the sphere, but it is a complex issue concerning highly vulnerable individuals.”
Van Wymersch goes on, “Begging is not a punishable offence in itself in our jurisdiction but the Public Prosecutor can however intervene, both in the case of potential human trafficking crimes, or cases concerning minors.”
She further says, “There are legal sanctions for inciting minors to commit offences but when the issue is solely one of begging, the judicial route is not always straightforward. We can indeed check if we feel that the family situation for the child involved is worrying. If this proves to be the case, we can locate the child and prosecute their parents.”
She added, “If the suspicion of human trafficking is compounded with begging, we try to gather as much information as possible upon the criminal organisation behind all of this activity. Concerning those who are victims of human trafficking, we work with existing victim support organisations.”
In 2015, the Brussels Criminal Court passed five-year prison sentences upon four members of a Romanian family who were forcing handicapped relations to beg in Brussels, and then confiscating any gains they made.
The Brussels Times