New guide to help workers tackle begging in Sheffield city centre

A new guide aims to help ‘empower’ Sheffield city centre businesses to tackle begging and share information about anti-social behaviour.​​​​​​​
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It urges workers to show compassion, treat people on the street as humans and ‘speak to them without judgement’.

It also links to organisations including the police, ambulance service, ambassadors, the rough sleeper initiative, environmental services, Amey and Sheffield Business Partnership.

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The Sheffield City Centre Business and Retail guide aims to empower businesses to take the best action when faced with anti-social behaviour or begging on their premises. It informs businesses of the support available to them and to people who are begging and explains how businesses can report anti-social behaviour to the police through a dedicated crime portal.

A police officer talking to a beggar in Sheffield city centre.A police officer talking to a beggar in Sheffield city centre.
A police officer talking to a beggar in Sheffield city centre.

The guide is part of a series of interventions that aim to reduce anti- social behaviour in the city centre.

One business that has benefited from the work of Community Safety Partnership is the Maida Vale bar on West Street. The late night venue had issues with begging which were having a negative impact on both customers and staff.

Gavin Richards, managing director of GJG Bars Group of Companies, said: “Prior to the help and guidance we received from Sheffield City Council, we always struggled with how to deal with anti-social behaviour near and around our premises. Sometimes intimidating, sometimes aggressive. My staff and management often felt uncomfortable and even at times, threatened, which often led to their responses and reactions being blunt, dismissive, unsympathetic.

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“Through working with the council, we received guidance on how to deal with these situations of anti-social behaviour, drug abuse and particularly begging, whilst also giving us a greater insight into the wider problems and causes, we began to adopt new approaches and responses.

“We found that this not only helped the people causing anti-social behaviour, but also made our staff and management feel safer and more empowered at handling these difficult situations. We found that non-judgemental empathy was always preferable to unconcerned sympathy.”

Councillor Richard Williams, Chair of the Communities, Park and Leisure Committee, said: “Our city centre is for all and to ensure everyone has an enjoyable visit, we are working with partners to give businesses and their staff the confidence they need to manage anti-social behaviour close to their premises.

“Through this holistic approach which empowers businesses, engages the public to help people begging, and works with South Yorkshire Police if enforcement action is necessary, we are making the city centre a more pleasant place to be and helping people get the support they need to stop begging.

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“Sheffield has very low numbers of people who are living on the streets. Many people you see begging do have homes but because of challenges they face in their lives, they can find themselves spending a lot of time on the streets. Begging causes issues for businesses, the public and people trying to make a living, like Big Issue sellers.

“By signposting people to support services we are helping to reduce anti-social behaviour and get people the help they need. We are also helping the city centre become a more pleasant place for visitors, shoppers and workers. I recommend people familiarise themselves with the advice and guidance from the Help Us Help campaign so they know what to do if they see someone begging.”

Superintendent Benn Kemp, responsible for neighbourhood policing and partnerships in Sheffield at South Yorkshire Police, added: “Together with partners, we carry out a range of joint outreach work to offer individuals living or begging on the streets with the support they need to get them off the streets and address their often-complex needs. Where engagement and interventions are not successful, then we do look towards enforcement instead, and this has led to the development of multi-agency Harm Reduction Pathway, to help manage individuals who cause alarm and distress in the area.

“Our business community play an important part in reducing anti-social behaviour, and as well as following the advice in the new guide, we would continue to encourage those with concerns to raise these with our City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team, so we can identify hotspots and persistent issues and take the necessary steps to address these.”