Begging Campaign – Are you feeding hunger or an addiction?

The Safer Peterborough Partnership is responding to public concerns regarding the issue of begging in Peterborough City Centre.

The response will take 3 strands of:

Education
Engagement
Enforcement

Education will focus on the “supply line” that is members of the public who are giving money or food to those begging. Often those who beg have complex needs involving substance and alcohol misuse and money gained from begging could be used to fuel these addictions.

Beverley Makin, Crime Reduction Officer for Cambridgeshire Constabulary, working with the SPP said “we are asking the public to work with us. We are concerned that what members of the public believe to be a compassionate act – giving money or food to someone begging – can actually do immense damage as there is a high risk, particularly in Peterborough that money handed to people begging on the streets will be spent on supporting addictions.

We are aware of people begging who are adequately housed, in receipt of benefits, including Job Seekers Allowance and continue to beg on our streets. Those that are in genuine need deserve our help and should get it; and there are wonderful charities that exist in our City with expertise in offering it. The only way to ensure that our money goes to those who really deserve it is to donate it through one of these charities”.

Engagement will focus on the already established support from local charities and referral agencies as well as the Peterborough City Council, Housing Needs service.

A Rough Sleeper Outreach Worker is employed by the PCC to engage with rough sleepers through offering housing advice and assistance and creating an offer which enables them to leave the streets. Examples of this may include reconnection to an area they have a local connection or help in acquiring supported or rented accommodation.

Sarah Scase, Rough Sleeper Outreach Worker said “ I am regularly on the streets in the City, identifying those who are new to service to offer advice and support to prevent them becoming entrenched. I continue to work and engage with those clients who have multi-faceted needs to encourage them into services. We conduct regular multi agency patrols with the Police and UKBA as well as working alongside charities, faith groups and alcohol and drug services, to identify those sleeping rough to assist them with housing, substance misuse and reconnection.”

Enforcement will focus on identifying those who are persistently begging in the City Centre and looking at the most effective options available within the law to deal with the issue. Since 2013 3 Anti-Social Behaviour Orders have been sought by the Police for those who have been engaged in anti social behaviour, including begging in the City Centre. Conditional Cautions have also been used, with positive requirements, providing an individual with the opportunity to engage with supporting services and enforcement work remains ongoing.

Police Inspector Kate Firman for Eastern Sector said: “The reasons that people beg varies tremendously and it is a complex issue which I am very pleased to see is being addressed using this multi-agency approach. Police and Police Community Support Officers continue to work with partners to divert individuals from engaging in this type of anti-social behaviour”

We need to identify and help vulnerable people and we need to work together to find a solution to begging in Peterborough City which balances the needs of those who need our support, with the needs of those who live, work ,visit and own businesses in our City.

Myth – Everyone who is begging is homeless.
Truth – The majority of people who are begging in Peterborough either have accommodation or have been provided with housing support and advise but have declined the advice and support provided.

Myth – There are no services for people who are begging in this City.
Truth – There is a wide range of services working together in Peterborough to help support people off the streets, such as charities, faith groups, health and treatment services as well as statutory organisations such as the Peterborough City Council.

Myth – People who are begging need the money for food.
Truth – Many of those begging in Peterborough will use the money obtained to feed an addiction. Charities exist in Peterborough offering free food to those in genuine need.

Myth – It’s OK though to give food instead of money.
Truth – There is a risk that any money the beggar may have had for food will be diverted into feeding their addiction. If you want to give food, donate it to a local charity.

Regards

Beverley Makin
Crime Reduction Officer
Eastern Sector
Peterborough