New Brunswick

Panhandling fines mount but questions surround payments

Fredericton police have issued more than 100 tickets to panhandlers over the last 22 months, but it isn't known how many of those have been paid.

Fredericton police hand out more than 100 tickets for panhandling in last 22 month

Panhandlers in Fredericton have been issued more than 100 tickets and warnings in the last 22 months. (CBC)

Fredericton police have issued more than 100 tickets to panhandlers over the last 22 months, but it isn't known how many of those have been paid.

A Right to Information request filed by CBC New Brunswick show that police have issued 98 prosecution tickets and seven warning tickets to panhandlers begging or loitering in the city. 

The minimum amount of each fine is $140. 

Fredericton Police Staff Sgt. Kim Quartermain says the force has issued more than 100 tickets and warnings for panhandling over the last 22 months. (CBC)
Staff Sgt. Kim Quartermain of the Fredericton Police Department was asked if fining those who are begging for coins was the best method in combating panhandling. 

"We are here to serve and protect the public," said Quartermain.

"Whether it's from someone panhandling downtown. That can be very disturbing for people. It can cause issues with the downtown community and their livelihood." 

Quartermain said the ticketing of panhandlers needs to be one of many forms of combating panhandling in the city. 

"Enforcement from a police organization is only one multi-faceted approach," said Quartermain.

"We need community members, community groups and projects."  

Different approach needed

Warren Maddox, the executive director for the Fredericton Homeless Shelters, said there needs to be other approaches to the issue but says he doesn't expect panhandlers pay fines.

"Nope, not at all," said Maddox.

Warren Maddox, the executive director for the Fredericton Homeless Shelters, said he doubts many panhandlers pay their $140 fines because they don't have the money. (CBC)
"I think that some people try, but they just do not have the money. It's be like getting blood from a stone." 

Maddox said he understands the need to have a tool, such as ticketing, to deal with aggressive panhandlers, but those are a minority.

"It does work if you need a way to keep a person who is being a nuisance and making people uncomfortable," said Maddox. "But they are rare."

Marc James, a Fredericton panhandler, says the system is unfair to those who have the least.

"Man, it's ridiculous," said James.

"How do they expect people to pay that? We're panhandling, we live on the streets, we can't afford it and they throw us in jail."

James says he's spent several days in jail for unpaid tickets for panhandling. 

Quartermain said she could not answer if the majority of the 98 tickets for $140 each went unpaid. 

"I can't really speak to that," said Quartermain.

"Our payment processing takes place at City Hall, so I can't speak to that myself." 

An unpaid ticket for begging or loitering increases incrementally before a court date is issued to the person not paying the fine.

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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