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August 19, 2012

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List of beggars stirs up storm

A SHANGHAI subway police station has generated controversy after it started publicizing online a ranking list of beggars, exposing those who are caught the most frequently on the city's busy Metro trains.

The police station at Xujiahui Station on Line 1 is now encouraging Metro riders to send them an instant text or voice message through a popular social-networking application on mobile phones when they spot a beggar on the train. Officers promised they would arrive within five minutes of receiving the message to take the panhandler into custody.

Police said this is the peak season for subway panhandlers as adult beggars make use of children from their hometowns who are on their summer holidays. They added they are trying new methods to crack down on the illegal activity that creates many complaints from subway passengers.

And furthermore, the police station has also publicized a ranking list of beggars on its microblog. A 22-year-old man surnamed He who is from Liaoning Province was the most frequently caught by officers at the station, according to the list. It shows he has been caught 309 times since 2008.

Police also provided further personal details including he is illiterate, lives near Shanghai Railway Station and has a crippled leg.

An 88-year-old woman surnamed Chen from Anhui Province is second on the list and has been caught 303 times.

Beggars are taken to the Metro station police office after being caught. Police record their violations and persuade them to stop such illegal activity. The toughest penalty is a fine.

Media reports about the list stirred up a heated debate. Some opinion writers said the police should not be so mean to beggars because they are one of the weakest groups in society. They also criticized the police for humiliating the beggars by releasing such a list.


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