Beggars diverted into Salvos’ care

The City of Melbourne council is working with police and the Salvation Army on a new anti-begging strategy. Under the plan, police will charge people with begging, and then recommend them for a court diversion program, which would involve compulsory “health checks, training, and help in finding work”. Twenty-four men were arrested under the scheme last weekend. Under the Criminal Justice Diversion Program, people are given the opportunity to avoid court and a criminal record if they comply with conditions set by a magistrate. Under the Summary Offences Act 1966 (Vic), “begging or gathering alms” is punishable by up to a year in jail.