This is what Sheffield residents think about police crackdown on begging in city centre

People of Sheffield have had their say after police announced they are cracking down on begging in Sheffield city centre this Christmas.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 4:06 pm

Officers have this week handed out a number of dispersal orders to individuals believed to be involved in begging.

South Yorkshire Police said the crime is ‘particularly prevalent’ at this time of year – and added that it is working to help individuals who are out on the streets.

A rough sleeper on Barker’s Pool, who did not want to be identified, told the Star: “I don’t think handing out dispersal orders is fair on those who are already in a desperate situation and need a bit of change to get a warm drink or some food.

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Anna Barlow.

“I don’t ask people for money – if they want to give me some change then it’s up to them.”

Alan O’Rourke said: “With Christmas just around the corner, I think it’s mean to be moving on people who are in a very unfortunate place.

“I think as a society we need to show more compassion.”

Anna Barlow said: “Begging is a very complex and upsetting issue.

Police officers in Sheffield are trying to reduce begging.

“I think we need to be looking after people, not using dispersal orders.

“It just seems so harsh.”

Another shopper, who asked not to be named, added: “I can see both sides to this.

“Part of me thinks it’s a bit mean of the police to be giving out dispersal orders to beggars – but if they’re going to move them on to help them then that’s fair enough.”

Alan O'Rourke.

Commenting on social media, Declan Sean Kenny said: “They’re not reducing it, they’re displacing it.”

Stephen Szaflicki added: “Moving beggars on is not really solving the problem.”

Sheffield Inspector John Mallows, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Many homeless individuals we encounter have vulnerabilities and other complex needs that lead them to beg on the streets.

“We work closely with partners and other agencies to provide support to these individuals such as supported accommodation, mental health provision and substance misuse referrals.

“We regularly carry out patrols with partners such as Help us Help and Framework to engage and provide advice to street beggars, and conduct referrals to support agencies where necessary.

“Sadly, not everyone wants to accept the help we offer.

“Dispersal notices, also known as Section 35s, are very much a last option, but will be used as a preventative tool to protect all our communities in Sheffield city centre.

“We often receive complaints from local businesses and members of the public about street begging in Sheffield and it’s important these concerns are listened to.

“A dispersal notice is something which can be used when someone is persistently begging, not taking up the support we offer and, in some cases, being verbally abusive to members of the public in the city centre.”

On Tuesday, Sergeant Jon Simpson said: “The issue of begging and problems linked to so-called street culture become particularly prevalent at this time of year when we see an increase in people in the city centre.

“The number of Christmas shoppers and people wanting to enjoy what the city has to offer are on the rise and we’re here to make sure they can do that safely.

“Yesterday we upped our usual presence on Fargate and other main shopping streets to deter and disperse beggars.

“We’ve issued four dispersal notices to individuals that we believe to be involved in begging and two people received community protection notices.

“The patrols have also resulted in us stopping and searching seven people, with one being reported on summons for possession of cannabis and a second person receiving a caution for possession of Spice.

“We have also spoken to a number of people about what support they may be able to access in relation to their health and housing needs – it’s really important that we encourage people to get help too.

“Thank you to all the members of the public, city workers and shoppers who have stopped to chat to us too – we really appreciate your kind comments and support.”