The leader of Nottingham City Council is urging people to ‘change how they give change’ as the authority and police look to tackle the issue of begging.
Councillor Jon Collins has welcomed the news that there are fewer people begging in Nottingham but has joined Chief Inspector Shaun Ostle in trying to drive the small band of criminal beggars out of the city for good.
Members of the public will soon be asked to donate money directly to charities which can support those who are genuinely homeless, like Framework1. Many people are unaware that the majority of people who sleep rough do not beg in the streets, while those who do are rarely themselves homeless.
Beggars in city streets are often not from Nottingham and many are using the money given to them in good faith by passers-by to fund a drug habit.
The police and council will work closely with Community Protection and the Crime and Drugs Partnership (CDP) and it comes on the back of the recently-commissioned 2014 Respect Survey2, which showed that the public’s perception of a begging problem in Nottingham has reduced from 38.3 per cent in 2013 to 28.2 per cent this year.
Councillor Collins said: “This is all about trying to help people and make sure that money is being given to those most in need. The problem surrounds beggars coming into Nottingham and taking cash to directly fund their drug habit.
“We are aware of a number of beggars that the Community Protection team has taken steps to secure court orders on.
“But we need the help of the public to work with us to rid Nottingham of this illegal activity – change how you give your change. If you want to help people who are genuinely homeless, then supporting an organisation such as Framework will be much more beneficial.”
Chief Inspector Ostle, who heads up the city centre Community Protection team, said: “Nottingham is one of the core cities that has reduced begging over the past few years, but we still have work to do with some persistent beggars that refuse to stop their activities on our streets.
“As a partnership, we recognise that there are genuine people in need out there and we will work as hard as we can to help those individuals, but there are also people who are deceiving the public and we intend to prosecute them.
“We also need to ask the public to donate to alternative charities which help the homeless. What many people don’t know is that most beggars are not actually homeless and beg to feed a drug habit.”
The action is not all about enforcement, and monthly meetings are held between the different agencies where case studies are discussed and help is provided. Key facts are as follows:
- Most people sleeping rough do not beg and most people begging do not sleep rough;
- There are various charities that can help if you do not have a home;
- Giving money can potentially kill – it will feed the beggar’s habit;
- A number of beggars in Nottingham are not from the city;
- Begging is a criminal offence;
- Some beggars masquerade as buskers – known as begging by other means.
Richard Antcliff, Chief Licensing, Trading Standards & ASB Officer, said: “Community Protection and Nottinghamshire Police are finding that individuals begging in the city centre are adopting various tactics in order to dupe the public out of their hard-earned cash.
“We are continuing to obtain prohibitive court orders on these individuals to prevent their offending and begging activities.”
A new campaign, aimed at encouraging people to donate to homeless charities rather than directly to beggars on the streets, is set to be launched in Nottingham later in the year. It has been developed by Nottingham CDP in collaboration with the city council, police and Community Protection, and will highlight the good work their spare change can do if donated properly.
1 Framework is a charity and housing association dedicated to helping homeless people, preventing homelessness, and promoting opportunities for vulnerable and excluded people to change the direction of their lives. To find out more visit www.frameworkha.org.
2 The 2014 Respect Survey can be downloaded from the CDP website: https://www.nottinghamcdp.com/2014-respect-survey/
The Respect Survey is an annual survey carried out by Information by Design, and commissioned by the Nottingham Crime & Drug Partnership.