Council chiefs have ruled out a night cafe to tackle Sheffield’s problem with rough sleepers and begging - instead recommending a more ‘joined-up approach’ to combat the city’s homeless issues.
A report submitted to Sheffield Council’s cabinet from the Street Culture Scrutiny Task Group states that, while a night cafe may contribute as a possible solution, “one single place may not be effective due to the considerable mental health issues and complex relationships of those living on the streets”.
A petition calling for the night cafe had been submitted to the authority in September last year and was later considered by the council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Committee.
The report also states that not all the city’s beggars are homeless, and raised concerns that “there is organised begging in the city and it was thought this could have organised crime behind it”.
Instead, the report recommends stronger working relationships with the council, the police, Sheffield Street Outreach team, City Centre Ambassadors, Sheffield Business Crime Reduction, as well as organisations such as Help Us Help and Framework.
Report authors also urged caution with the introduction of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) to combat begging and other anti-social behaviour in Sheffield city centre, and that it is ‘implemented proportionately’.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, April 18, Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “When you are in this situation it can be very difficult to get yourself out of it, but often the problems we have in responding is to do with not having the information available or not being able to share it to relieve this complex issue.
“We have already mapped every single homeless person that we know about in the city. This is something that needs to be on the agenda. I don’t want to see anyone on the streets.”
The meeting heard that City Centre Ambassadors had more than 5,000 ‘interventions’ with beggars in one year, and over Christmas 2017 a total of four beggars were seen operating over a two-hour period by officers - all of who were known to have accommodation. On average 12 beggars per day are moved on by patrols, the meeting was told.
Additionally, night counts had revealed around 12 people regularly sleeping rough in the city centre.
Coun Dunn added that any plans to introduce PSPOs in the future would “need to go through scrutiny before it is actioned”.
The report will now go out to healthcare providers and other partnership organisations for further consultation.
A full multi-agency response to homelessness and begging is expected to take place in October, and will be led by Sheffield City Council’s cabinet members.