Government research supports targeted action as 77% of beggars test positive for class A drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine.
Some 54% of respondents in the research said that they would not use a cash point machine if a beggar was stationed next to it. The presence of beggars in Westminster in London was quoted by visitors as the main reason why they would not return.
Five trailblazer authorities including Brighton have been given £150,000 each to come up with imaginative solutions to the problem which will include offering help as well as threats of anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) for persistent offenders which Westminster Council has deemed five or more incidents of begging. Different locations will adopt different solutions but all will try to divert the public from giving to beggars. In Brighton we have an “alternative giving” collection box scheme originally set up by the Business Forum which has been adopted by the local authority.
The number of beggars on Brighton & Hove’s streets has declined dramatically mainly due to coordinated responses from the council and Sussex Police but there still remains a very small hard core that have resisted rehabilitation attempts.
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