A Dundee councillor has told of his shock at witnessing a shopper “intimidating” a homeless person in a city retail park.
Councillor Charlie Malone said he saw a “smartly dressed” man kick over a beggar’s cup, spilling his change, at the Gallagher Retail Park on Saturday.
The shopper was then said to have bent down and “berated” the homeless person, before going into a store looking “angry”.
Mr Malone, who is known for his vocal anti-poverty stance, said: “The gentleman was sitting outside a shop on a blanket, with a paper cup.
“I saw a man walking past and knocking over his cup. Whether it was deliberate or accidental, I don’t know.
“He then berated the freezing individual, who apologised.
“The shopper seemed angry. I didn’t hear exactly what was being said, but he was bent over a little bit, to have words with the person.
“I found the behaviour intimidating, and my partner who was with me agreed. He made no attempt to help the guy gather his coins, he just went into a shop with an angry expression on his face.”
M Malone said he then went to help the homeless man, who thanked him but declined assistance.
Mr Malone added: “Struggling to pick up 1p coins, there was no anger, just resignation. He looked like he was in ill health – his face and hands were swollen and calloused.
“The other man didn’t look like he was lacking money, he was smartly dressed.
“It left a really bad taste in my mouth; things like this make me angry.”We were unable to locate the homeless man in question at the time of going to press.
At around the same time last year, a “vulnerable” beggar was left bloodied after being assaulted on Lochee High Street – in Mr Malone’s ward – by youths on bikes.
Alison Watson, deputy director of homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, said: “It’s shocking to hear someone treating people with such aggression and contempt.
“The reality is that whatever the reasons for people begging, it is a desperate, lonely and dangerous existence and not something that people just choose to do.
“This sort of behaviour is contemptible and shows no understanding of why people beg or their background.
“Many have multiple and complex needs, many have experienced trauma in their lives and have been failed by the state.
“Our experience is that no one who is begging would do so if they had another option.
Ms Watson added: “The Scottish Government was right to reject any bids to criminalise begging through by-laws.
“Penalising people forced to beg would do nothing to solve the underlying issue and could be extremely dangerous for them.”