Sunday, 3 Mar 2024

‘Romanian gangs’ of beggars ‘bully’ the homeless in bid for best spots

Food bank user on the importance of service for homeless people

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Homeless people in central London are competing against Romanian beggar “gangs” who try to “bully” others for the best spaces. The Romanians are believed to live in houses and are dropped off in the morning, ready for a day of begging.

A homeless man called Ron (not his real name), who stays away from Oxford Circus because of the tough competition, said he has been “mob-handed” by the organised beggars in the past over prime spots, such as a doorway next to a cash machine or a busy intersection.

He claims he has seen enough of them to know they are working together.

“I’ve had loads of problems with them, they’ve tried to bully me,” he told MyLondon.

“One woman came up and just sat next to me and said ‘me, me’. F**k off, I told her.

“They get dropped off in a van in the morning and they’re made to sit out for 12 hours a day.”

He said the number of the groups has grown since he became homeless five years ago. “There’s hundreds more of them now,” Ron continued. “We were meant to have left Europe, that says it all doesn’t it.”

Although Ron stands up for himself, he admitted not everyone does. He said other homeless people could be sitting down but get up and go as soon as someone confronts them.

“It’s bad out there, It can be dangerous. You can be attacked constantly. If you don’t stand your ground, you’ll get trampled,” he added.

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Aaron Singh, a YouTuber who has been documenting interviews with addicts for over a year, said the organised group, found around Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road and up to Marble Arch, probably make “a lot of money”.

“They all have the same sign,” Aaron said.

“With the word homeless spelt wrong. They get dropped off together in the morning.

“They must make a lot of money because they will spend the whole day here. The heroin addicts just get what they need for drugs.”

But the competition isn’t only between the homeless and organised beggars. Ron said a third group have tried to nudge him out of the way for a top spot in London: desperate drug addicts.

Ron said he is out to “survive” while others, who he claims often live in houses, are out to collect money for drugs and alcohol.

“They’re nasty,” he added. “I can hold my hands up and say I won’t be bullied. But people will try and tell me I can’t sit here. I say ‘move me, physically move me’. No chance, they can’t.”

Aaron Singh said most of those begging specifically around Oxford Circus are trapped because of their need for heroin and crack.

While the organised beggars might leave after a day, those that are drug addicted may spend only hours doing it until they collect £20 for a “one on one”.

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