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Street papers battle against illegal sales

 Hus Forbi (Denmark) 25 March 2019

Street papers are a winning formula and many want a share of it. Problems with fake vendor IDs and even organised crime have been reported, but street papers are fighting back. A new, hardline approach is proving successful in Denmark. (625 Words) - By Simon Ankjaergaard


Hus_Forbi_Battling illegal vendors 1

 Vendors of Danish street paper Hus Forbi showing off their new uniforms. Photo courtesy of Hus Forbi/Simon Ankjaergaard

To download more photos click here.

At the start of this year, Danish street paper Hus Forbi introduced new, more foolproof vendor identification badges. At the same time, the organisation has tightened its existing rules for selling and distributing the street paper. It is an effort to crack down on the illegal sales of the street paper.

Ole Skou, board chairman of Hus Forbi, says: "We have encountered problems with illegal vendors, who amongst other things use fake vendor ID badges to sell Hus Forbi. We discovered that these vendors get hold of the paper through vendors with legal IDs, who -contrary to the rules- buy the paper for redistribution. Other vendors managed to get magazines from a distribution point without a valid ID."

Organised crime

Unfortunately, the Danish street paper has also discovered a more organised form of illegal sales. Skou explains: "We have discovered a network of 'middle men', who -on a regular basis- bring people from poorer European countries to Denmark. Upon arrival, they provide them with ready-made fake street paper vendor ID cards. They even give them a list of good areas and pitches to sell the magazine."

"It is crucial to eliminate illegal sales for the benefit of the legal vendors, both Danish and foreigners."

Skou is appalled by the way in which the 'middle men' take advantage of the vulnerable position of the people involved. "As EU citizens, the targeted individuals can stay in Denmark for three months, after which the middle men organise them transport home. These people arrive home just as poor as they left. They become the victims of organised crime, which we neither can nor will support."

As a result, the board of Hus Forbi has decided to change all vendor IDs to new ones, which are harder to copy. Skou emphasizes that there are also many foreign vendors who legally sell the street paper. "All foreign vendors in the possession of a legal vendor ID card also have had their ID exchanged and can of course perfectly legally continue to sell Hus Forbi", he states.

Over the bitter cold Christmas and New Year period, all official Hus Forbi vendors have also been equipped with brand new and easily recognisable vendor uniforms with Hus Forbi's logo in yellow on the jackets as well as trousers.

Strict rules

In conjunction with the vendor ID card system and the introduction of the new uniforms, Hus Forbi has tightened the rules for homeless shelters who distributing the paper across the country. Mass sales are no longer allowed, and a maximum of 50 papers per vendor per day has been imposed. Staff at the shelters have been instructed to carefully check vendor badges and only distribute copies to vendors with an official badge.

"We will be very strict on imposing the rules", says Skou. "If distributors do not follow them at all times, we will stop working with them immediately and shut down the distribution point."

Vendors of the street paper have applauded the hardline approach. Martin Mogensen, vendor representative at Hus Forbi, says: "If we do not clamp down on organised illegal sales now, I fear that it will spiral out of control. I fully welcome the measures taken, like the new IDs, new uniforms and the tougher rules for distributors. It is crucial to eliminate illegal sales for the benefit of the legal vendors, both Danish and foreigners."

Translated into English by Jesper Bach

Originally published by Hus Forbi ©

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