Does Norway have a problem with street beggars?

Street beggar beggingPhoto: Francesco Tommasini / Unsplash

This article outlines details provided by the Norwegian government regarding street begging.

Norway Today spoke to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to learn more about street begging and homelessness in Norway – if it’s a problem and how it’s regulated.

Norway’s Socialist Left Party (SV) – which was staunchly opposed to the deportation of street beggars – was now silent on the topic, failing to provide their insights for this article after multiple promises to do so.

Here’s what the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs had to say.

Begging not banned but regulations are in place

How is begging legally regulated in Norway?

“The national ban on begging in Norway was repealed in 2005. Today, each individual municipality may issue regulations for begging in public places. Begging may be considered part of other penal provisions in the Norwegian Penal Code, such as disorderly conduct or fraud.”

How is homelessness legally regulated in Norway?

“There are various laws and regulations in Norway with relevance to issues concerning homelessness and housing policy in Norway. Different ministries are responsible for these regulations. The following is an overview of some of these regulations. The overview is not exhaustive.

• According to the Social Services Act, NAV is responsible for finding temporary housing and assist in finding permanent housing. Please refer to the answer to question four for more information concerning this

• Bostøtteloven regulates a housing benefit scheme that aims to give households with low income and high housing expenses the opportunity to acquire a suitable home. The housing allowance is a means-tested scheme for everyone over the age of 18

• The Health and Care Services Act imposes an obligation on the municipality to offer stays in nursing homes or similar housing if needed

• The Public Health Act contributes to a societal development that strengthens public health and equalizes social differences in health and living conditions

• The Planning and Building Act provides a framework for all planning carried out by public or private bodies. Social considerations are discussed in the introductory part of the law. The planning shall facilitate satisfactory living environments and living conditions and counteract social health inequalities”

What is the procedure if someone is caught stealing as a beggar or homeless person?

“Criminal prosecution is regulated in the Criminal Procedure Act.”

In what situations do you turn to deportation – and in what situations would you not turn to deportation?

“Expulsion and rejection are measures the authorities can use to deny foreigners entry to or stay in Norway. Rejection (bortvisning) is a decision to deny a foreigner access to Norway at the border or order him or her to leave the country. Expulsion (utvisning) is a decision stating that a person is expelled from Norway for one or more years. A common situation that can lead to expulsion is that a person has committed a crime under Norwegian law. The EEA Agreement provides extended protection against expulsion for citizens of its member states.

“There is further information (in English) about the grounds for expulsion and rejection for nationals of countries inside and outside the EU/EAA area on this page.

“The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) is the central agency in the Norwegian immigration administration. UDI can make decisions on rejection and expulsion.”

Social support is available

What is the support and assistance system when it comes to begging?

“Persons who cannot support themselves in other ways may be entitled to financial social assistance. Everyone has the right to apply for financial social assistance and receive an individual assessment of their application. The scheme is intended to ensure that everyone has a minimum income.

“Begging often occurs among victims of human trafficking. The government has prepared an action plan against human trafficking. The action plan calls for a coordinated effort against human trafficking, where public authorities and voluntary organizations work together to prevent abuse and protect victims. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security coordinates the plan.

“The action plan can be found here.”

What is the support and assistance system when it comes to homelessness?

“NAV is responsible for finding a temporary residence in acute situations for people who for various reasons are unable to obtain housing themselves. If a person does not have money to pay for temporary housing, he or she can apply for financial social assistance. Accommodation can be provided in a boarding house, hospice, or other suitable accommodation. NAV must ensure that the temporary housing offer is in a safe condition. With regard to permanent housing offers, the municipality shall help to provide housing for disadvantaged persons in the housing market.”

What are the differences in social help and regulation if someone is Norwegian, if someone is Nordic, and if someone is a third-country citizen?

“As a main rule, persons who are not Norwegian citizens and who do not have permanent housing in the country are not entitled to individual services according to the Social Services Act, with the exception of information, advice, and guidance from NAV. If a person is unable to provide for himself or herself, he or she is entitled to financial benefits and assistance in finding temporary accommodation in accordance with the Social Services Act. Assistance is provided until the person can be expected to receive assistance from sources in his or her home country. Please note that this may not apply in cases where the person’s home country and Norway are part of multilateral agreements or conventions, for example, the EEA agreement.”

Tackling the issues

How does the Norwegian government deal with the problem of begging?

“The national ban on begging in Norway was repealed in 2005. Today, each individual municipality may issue regulations for begging in public places. The current government’s political platform is based on the Granavolden platform. In this platform, it is stated that the government will maintain
the municipalities’ right to introduce local regulations concerning begging.”

How do the Norwegian government deal with the problem of homelessness?

“The government has prepared a national strategy for social housing policy (2021 – 2024). The strategy can be found here.

The strategy describes the public efforts towards disadvantaged persons in the housing market. The social housing policy intends to prevent people from having housing problems, and provide help to those who are unable to obtain and keep a suitable home themselves. In the strategy, the government has defined four goals to strengthen the social housing effort in the years to come. A number of measures are presented for each goal. The fourth goal in the strategy concerns the importance of clear roles, necessary knowledge, and competence. One of the measures is to propose a new act that clarifies the municipalities’ responsibilities with regards to social housing policies.”

“Begging often occurs in combination with human trafficking”: Which and how many people are affected

What are the number of people and percentage of the Norwegian population that is currently begging?

“The Ministry is not aware of national statistics currently available regarding the number of people who can be classified as “beggars” in Norway.

“Begging often occurs in combination with human trafficking. The Coordination Unit for Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings (KOM) has been given the task by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to prepare an annual report on the state of human trafficking in Norway. The report is intended to provide information and knowledge for responsible authorities and organizations that work towards assisting and protecting victims of human trafficking. The report provides an insight into the group of people where begging may occur.

“The report for 2019 can be read here.”

What are the number of people and percentage of the Norwegian population that is currently homeless?

“Homelessness is examined through a survey approximately every four years in Norway, for the seventh time in 2020. The Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR) at OsloMet is conducting the survey for 2020. The results of the survey are expected to be available in the first half of 2021.

“The results from the previous survey (2016) can be read here. The survey from 2016 shows a decrease in the number of homeless persons from 6200 in 2012 to 3900 in 2016. The decline was particularly strong among children, from 679 children in 2012 to 229 children in 2016.”

Source: Norway Today / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews


3 Comments on "Does Norway have a problem with street beggars?"

  1. Answer: YES.

    And I feel sorry for these old women being forced by unidentified agents to sit on cold sidewalks in brutal weather. What kind of life is that?

    Another excellent, to-the-point article, Norway Today.

    Are you starting to lead Norwegian journalism … in English?

  2. In 2016 when I was in Oslo, the whole main street leading up to the palace was filled with beggars who looked and dressed in a foreign fashion. It started to rain and they all say under a sheltered area, on their smart phones. I was surprised.

  3. Help Norwegians who are down on their luck only,Importing beggars from another country is downright insane

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