Twenty people have been cautioned in the first two weeks of an initiative to tackle begging in Leicester city centre.
Earlier this month, police in the city centre announced a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ approach to begging after community consultations revealed that it is a key concern for people living, working and shopping in Leicester.<br><br>Under the initiative, people seen begging are given a formal warning and their details taken down by officers. If they are seen again then a second warning is issued by police. If they ignore the warnings and are caught begging on a third occasion then they can be arrested and put before the courts.<br><br>Every time an officer engages with a person begging, they also sign post them to support services which are available if they are homeless or begging to support an alcohol or drug addiction. <br><br>Inspector Jason Ross, commander of the City Centre Local Policing Unit, said: “I hope this shows our commitment to tackling begging on the streets of Leicester. <br><br>“Begging and street drinking are the issues raised most frequently at our community consultation events held in the city. I want people to be able to enjoy visiting or shopping in Leicester city centre without being troubled by persistent beggars. <br><br>“A key part of this initiative is our work with other agencies, such as hostels, treatment programmes and the council, so that we can offer support and help to people who are begging to help them get off the streets. <br><br>“Neighbourhood officers will continue to monitor the situation and take further action against people who persist to beg in the city centre.” <br><br>The initiative forms part of Leicestershire Constabulary’s ‘Safer Summer’ campaign which aims to tackle anti-social behaviour and other issues which have a negative impact on communities. As part of the campaign, neighbourhood officers in the city centre are focussing on tackling street drinking and underage drinking, as well as begging.
Sepoarately Avon and Somerset Police officers in Bath have conducted a targeted operation to reduce the number of beggars in the city centre.
The issue was raised as a PACT priority (Partners and Communities Together) and a swift response has seen one beggar arrested, for crimes associated to them, and six others moved from the city centre.
Neighbourhood Inspector Steve Mildren from Bath Police Station says; "Police officers had spoken to the individuals on several occasions in the past concerning their begging activities and provided help and advice. The individuals returned to begging and so had action taken against them as persistent offenders. Officers also conducted checks that showed the individuals to have home addresses in the area and that they were local residents choosing to beg on the streets. We are committed to assisting to deliver a non intimidating atmosphere in the city with a level of behaviour that everyone expects."