Police days of action to tackle begging in Rotherham town centre
A day of action to tackle begging and get help for those on the streets is to be repeated in Rotherham town centre.
In a one-day crackdown on begging, 15 warnings and four cautions were issued and one culprit is due at court.
But South Yorkshire Police said that in addition to identifying offenders, the multi-agency day of action was to look for those vulnerable on the streets and in need of support.
Inspector Jenny Lax said: "One of our ongoing priorities is to help make Rotherham town centre a place where people feel safe, want to visit and want to work.
“Over recent months, we received a number of complaints from businesses, as well as members of the public, about the number of people begging.
“We put together a plan of action, including increasing town centre patrols, to take positive action and separate those vulnerable people from those making a mockery of honest and caring members of the public.”
She added: “We know that there are cases where beggars are self-confessed one-man crime waves who are playing on the generosity of members of the public and choosing to beg, causing a nuisance and intimidating people going about their business.
“Our PCSOs have been visiting the addresses of individuals known to us, so we can identify those taking advantage and ensure that they are dealt with through appropriate enforcement ranging from a verbal warning to arrest."
As part of the day of action nine referrals were made to Rotherham Council’s housing services, two referrals were made to drug support services and some warm clothing was provided to vulnerable people.
“It’s all about getting the right balance,” added Inspector Lax.
“There are a variety of reasons that lead to people begging, from gambling addictions to family break downs, which is why we have taken a multi-agency approach to try and put that person in touch with the right service provider.
“The first step is that they are offered an instant appointment at Key Choices - the council’s housing team- and are accompanied by a Police Community Support Officer to help make sure that they attend.
“The second step is to look at the valid reasons as to why they are begging and for example bring in a substance misuse counsellor if relevant.”
Further town centre days of action are planned for January.
“The key now is to ensure that we keep in touch with the people we are helping and encourage them to take the support on offer and help them to stay off the streets,” added Inspector Lax.