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Homelessness Crackdown Launched in York


12:08am 11th July 2014

Officers from the police and Salvation Army will be carrying out walks in the city centre at the end of this week and over the weekend to talk to people appearing to beg on the streets. Officers will also hand out leaflets asking people not to give money to beggars who, if in genuine need, should be eligible for benefits or accommodation.

The Salvation Army is accredited to give housing advice which they can offer individuals found begging, or they can signpost them to appropriate benefits advice.

Officers from the police or council will remind any beggars that it is an offence to beg, that they must stop and if found begging again they will be prosecuted. Officers will also liaise with the Department for Work and Pensions if any person begging is found to be getting social security benefits too.

Similar operations have been successfully carried out by Humberside police who found numbers of people begging on the streets halved.

Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing, Cabinet Member for Homes and Safer Communities, said: “No-one needs to beg on our streets: it is an offence and those who do it professionally will be brought to book as it is not tolerated in York, while for people in genuine need there is ample housing or benefits support, training or medical help. I understand people want to be kind and give to those begging, but there are specialist organisations who can help people off the streets and any loose change is better going to them.”

Charles Malarkey, Service Manager for the Early Intervention and Prevention team based at York Citadel Salvation Army, said: "The Salvation Army is dedicated to providing the best care for people who are homeless.  The team here in York works tirelessly with those asking for money on the street to get them into accommodation and to show that asking for money isn't the best option. As a Church and charity we are, and always have been, committed to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need. As such we are well placed to offer compassionate support, as well as practical help, from providing help with tackling addictions, to advice on housing or just a listening ear. We look to be there for people when they need us."  

Inspector Charlotte Bloxham from North Yorkshire Police, said: “There is no reason for anyone to be begging on the streets of York. There are a number of avenues of support for these individuals should they be in true need of help. Begging creates an atmosphere of intimidation and those involved in this illegal activity may not portray an accurate reflection of their circumstances and your kind gesture could unwittingly support a drink or drugs habit. North Yorkshire Police welcomes the opportunity to work alongside partner agencies in order to support these individuals through the correct channels. Anyone found to be taking part in this illegal activity will be dealt with through the legal process.”

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