Street beggars in Norway are packing up and heading home after their business was soured by a TV exposé linking their activities to organized crime.
A proportion of panhandlers in major cities have bought plane tickets back to their native Romania after facing increased hostility.
A local newspaper in the city of Bergen quoted a charity worker saying that 11 beggars were heading back to Romania, more than 1,000 miles away.
It followed a report on Norwegian public TV exposing a network of 140 Romanians who blended begging, prostitution and credit card theft to fund their lifestyles.
The film caused a public outcry and prompted the Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, to discourage the public from giving to beggars. A popular backlash has reportedly hurt the begging business significantly – driving many beggars home.
An article in the Bergens Tidende newspaper, translated by Norwegian news site TheLocal.no, reported a local charity had handed out cash to help beggars afford the airfares, likely to have been in excess of $200 per head.
A spokesman for the Robin Hood-huset charity said: “They say it is unsafe and unpleasant to be in Bergen now.”
He said beggars reported being hit and verbally abused in the street – acts that are usually very rare in famously tolerant Norway.
Local politicians have condemned a local rise in hate crime.