Following the introduction of Gloucester City Council’s safe and attractive streets policy in July the number of persistent  beggars in Gloucester has fallen significantly.

Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary carried out an operation on 30 August to monitor and target the most persistent beggars in the city centre and found fewer beggars on the streets.

This follows work done by city council’s community safety team, together with police and other partners, to help beggars and rough sleepers access the support they may need.

Since July, when the safe and attractive streets policy was put in place, 19 people have received letters of concern. These letters provide advice and make referrals to organisations that can support people to get off the streets.

Those who have continued to beg have been issued with a warning letter, saying that they must engage with the support that is available to them.

Seven people have now received warning letters for continuing to beg.

Two people have faced criminal action for persistent begging, one has been arrested and bailed and one reported to court. Three people who were begging have been arrested for other offences.

Agencies are also meeting to review each case and support individuals with the root causes of their homelessness or begging.

There have been several successes already, including a number of individuals who have been moved to supported housing so that they can access appropriate services. One individual who has been a rough sleeper for a number of years is now engaging with support and is expected to be housed in the next month.
Cllr Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: “The launch of our safe and attractive streets policy has already had a positive impact on our city centre. The number of street beggars and rough sleepers has reduced, more people are getting the support they need, and I am so pleased about this.
“Nobody should be on the streets in this day and age, and it is essential that people who are genuinely in need are able to access support. The reduction in the number of beggars we have seen, and the increase in referrals to support agencies as well as the rate of engagement shows that ‘support-first’ does work. It also shows that there is support available for everyone, if they choose to engage. Gloucester City Council will continue to work with partner agencies to achieve the best possible
outcomes for those in need, whilst taking proactive action against people who are not”.
Steve Wood, local policing inspector: “Closer multi-agency working has brought many successes in dealing with this complex issue since the ‘engage, support, enforce’ approach was implemented.
“However, it is disappointing to be able to confirm that the majority of the people we have seen begging are not homeless and are receiving financial support. Investigations have confirmed that many of the people we have seen are using money from begging to supplement drug addictions; Gloucester City Council and Gloucestershire Constabulary urge members of the public not to give money to people on the street and instead support the charities that provide outreach to those who are genuinely homeless and in need of help.”
Businesses, residents and visitors are encouraged to report anyone they see on the street to Street Link using the app or online form on the Street Link website so that they can be helped by outreach workers to access support. Anyone who witnesses begging occurring, or is affected by begging related nuisance should report it to Police via 101.

Gloucester News Centre –

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