Ag­gres­sive­beg­ging­pol­icy ‘not­been­very­suc­cess­ful’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Behind The Headlines -

A Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil of­fi­cer hopes new pow­ers to tackle ag­gres­sive beg­ging will help solve the prob­lem af­ter ad­mit­ting the cur­rent pol­icy has not worked. From next month, coun­cil of­fi­cers will be able to cau­tion and fine ag­gres­sive beg­gars and take them to court thanks to new Com­mu­nity Safety Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Scheme pow­ers. Gary Goose, head of com­mu­nity ser­vices, said: “If they are ag­gres­sively beg­ging there will be a range of op­tions avail­able - first of all warn them, then cau­tion them, and if none of that works, ar­rest them. “In some cases, ar­rest might be the first op­tion if it is the right op­tion. But only the po­lice have the pow­ers to ar­rest. “If it’s some­one ap­pear­ing on the streets for the first time and they give the in­di­ca­tion they will stop do­ing it, we will look at a warn­ing or cau­tion. “Fixed penalty no­tices are avail­able and the court op­tion. They have a whole range of sanctions avail­able to them.” Mr Goose stressed that the coun­cil will con­tinue to try and help rough sleep­ers find hous­ing, but that ag­gres­sive beg­ging was a con­cern to peo­ple. He added: “It’s a hard core num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als that most visi­tors to the city cen­tre will have seen. We are aware it’s an is­sue of con­cern to the peo­ple who visit the city and work in the city cen­tre. “What we have tried so far has clearly not been very suc­cess­ful. “En­force­ment is not the only an­swer. What’s the point tak­ing some­one to court when they will not be able to pay the fine?” Coun­cil­lor Irene Walsh, the coun­cil’s cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­ment cap­i­tal, said the coun­cil helps peo­ple who are beg­ging to find ben­e­fit en­ti­tle­ments and search for tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion. She added: “We ask peo­ple not to give money to peo­ple who beg as this does not en­cour­age them to ac­cess the ser­vices they re­quire to im­prove their lives. In­stead they should give money to char­i­ties which help the home­less such as Shel­ter.”

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