Photo: A beggar on Lord street, Southport.
Preston has urges shoppers not to give beggars any money – because most of them are on benefits and aren’t homeless
Preston City Council, working with local police, has urged residents not to give money to beggars after its research found many already have homes and are supported by benefits. They say that kind-hearted locals are sustaining a ‘begging culture’ among people who are already been helped elsewhere.Research by the city council and a business group hs established that “many of the individuals begging in the city centre actually claim benefits and have a place to live”.
In an effort to combat so-called ‘professional begging’, the city has launched a special fund which locals can donate to, which will then be given to those in need.
Preston Councillor Robert Boswell said: “The council have been talking with and offering support to the people who are begging on the streets of Preston.
“While there are complex issues at play, it has become evident that a high percentage of the people begging in Preston are not rough sleeping, but are choosing to beg.
“Preston is a compassionate and friendly city, so it’s understandable why people are trying to help those who are begging.
“Unfortunately, this is actually sustaining a begging culture. We have to try to break the cycle by encouraging those people who choose to beg to get help and turn their lives around.”
Under the new scheme, those sitting on the streets could be issued with warning notices and even fines for ‘anti-social begging’.
Lancashire Police Sergeant Phil Orme said: “Sadly, there are some individuals who exploit others’ misfortune and the kindness of the public and use this technique to earn some extra money.”
Police data shows that around 80 per cent of beggars have a home, and a similar percentage are hooked on Class-A drugs including heroin and crack cocaine. In February it was revealed an illegal street beggar in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, is earning up to £500 a day despite not being homeless.
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