Banned from town centre after admitting persistent begging
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