Banned from town cen­tre af­ter ad­mit­ting per­sis­tent beg­ging

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - By PHILLIP THOMP­SON

AWOMAN from Glouces­ter has re­ceived a two-year Crim­i­nal Be­hav­iour Or­der af­ter plead­ing guilty to per­sis­tent beg­ging in Cheltenham town cen­tre.

Jodie Woo­ley, 24, of Arthur Street in Glouces­ter pleaded guilty to four counts of beg­ging at Cheltenham Mag­is­trates’ Court on Thurs­day, Fe­bru­ary 14.

The court heard Woo­ley was liv­ing in Glouces­ter and had her rent and elec­tric­ity paid for by a so­cial hous­ing provider in ad­di­tion to re­ceiv­ing monthly state ben­e­fits.

The CBO ex­cludes Woo­ley from en­ter­ing the town cen­tre, pro­hibits her from beg­ging at any time or sit­ting down in a pub­lic place with per­sonal items around her which could be used to re­ceive money.

The or­der was se­cured by So­lace; a joint team that in­cludes of­fi­cers from Glouces­ter­shire Con­stab­u­lary, Cheltenham Bor­ough Coun­cil and Glouces­ter City Coun­cil.

De­spite be­ing ac­com­mo­dated and re­ceiv­ing sup­port, po­lice be­lieve Woo­ley would travel ‘on an al­most daily ba­sis’ from her home to beg out­side re­tail premises in Cheltenham.

A po­lice spokesman said: “Woo­ley would also travel with what she called her ‘beg­ging bag’ in or­der to cre­ate the im­pres­sion that she was home­less.

“This bag con­tained a sleep­ing bag and blan­kets that she would cover her­self in to con­vince mem­bers of the pub­lic to give her money. It is un­der­stood that Woo­ley also told mem­bers of the pub­lic that she was home­less in or­der to ob­tain money from them, which would be used to fund her drug habit.”

Woo­ley was fined £40 and or­der to pay £85 pros­e­cu­tion costs as a re­sult of her per­sis­tent beg­ging.

The spokesman added: “Prior tak­ing this ac­tion, Woo­ley was given nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties to change her be­hav­iour and seek help to re­duce her de­pen­dency on drugs; how­ever she con­tin­ued to ig­nore the op­por­tu­ni­ties and warn­ings af­forded and the only pos­si­ble cause of ac­tion to re­duce the im­pact of her be­hav­iour was to seek a Crim­i­nal Be­hav­iour Or­der.”

So­lace Team Leader, Louise Boyle, said: “The ac­tion taken against Miss Woo­ley was in re­sponse to con­cerns raised by the com­mu­nity and busi­nesses in the town cen­tre.

“Be­fore tak­ing ac­tion we fol­lowed a process of a ver­bal warn­ing, a let­ter of con­cern and a fi­nal warn­ing let­ter ask­ing Miss Woo­ley to stop her be­hav­iour; at each stage she was also sign­posted to where she could re­ceive sup­port in the hope that it would help her break the cy­cle of drug use.

“So­lace want to help those that beg, of which many bat­tle drug, al­co­hol or gam­bling ad­dic­tions, but if some­one con­tin­u­ally re­fuses to get help and car­ries on beg­ging then we will utilise leg­is­la­tion to ad­dress this and put be­fore the Court.”

Jodie Woo­ley, 24, of Arthur Street

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