Nuisance beggars in Newcastle City Centre are making up to £200 a day, according to a charity boss who is warning people not to hand over their cash.
> How could he possibly know how much someone makes ?
Kind-hearted folk who have been responding to the beggars’ requests for spare change have even seen one man walk away with £360 from a day on the streets.
> Again, how do we know this ?
Stephen Bell, chief executive of homeless charity Changing Lives said the money is being used to fund addictions and people would be better giving them food and a hot drink if they want to help.
“People are begging to fund one habit or the other, whether it’s alcohol or drugs, and that’s the bottom line. We’ve heard of a case where someone pulled up in their car, changed clothes and then started begging. Beggars at the moment are getting an awful lot of money,” said Mr Bell.
> “We’ve heard of a case where someone pulled up in their car, changed clothes and then started begging.” But how do we know its true ? Surely its an allegation rather than a fact.
This claim actually mirrors a Sherlock Holmes story (I forget the title) where a man finds he can earn more as a beggar than by slaving away in “proper” job. He catches the train up to London (his wife thinks he’s doing a normal job), changes into his begging gear in a rented room, and then goes to work.
He said it is crucial for the public to realise the distinction between someone who is begging and a homeless person.
There are currently services across Newcastle which work with the city’s homeless and enough bed spaces for people so that no one has to spend a night outdoors. Changing Lives also do a daily check at 5.30am on how many people are sleeping rough in the city centre.
However over the last two years he said there has been a significant increase in begging.
> And a significant increase in sanctions. Coincidence ?
“Please do not give money to beggars. Give them a drink or a hot meal or give your money to a charity. We need to stop killing people with kindness. The police can help, they can move people away from main streets, but inevitably they just move them to another place. Not giving money genuinely does work, there would be a drop in earnings,” he said.
The warning comes as Northumbria Police is revealed to have made a record number of arrests for begging in 2013 with 61 people detained.
While statistics are still being compiled for 2014, figures for arrests are considerably reduced and police have said it is not their aim to prosecute beggars, but instead help them to work with charities.
Newcastle Superintendent Bruce Storey said:
“The reason the figure went up in 2013 was on the back of an increase in reports to police about concerns around the issue of beggars and begging, primarily in the Newcastle city centre area.
“These concerns came from local residents, visitors to the area and local businesses in the city centre and the issue has been, and continues to be, a priority for the city centre policing team.
“Our aim is not to arrest or prosecute beggars. We are keen to ensure those who need help are given it and we are running operations where we work together with charities and partners to identify those who need help or support and ensure they are given assistance.
“Northumbria Police and our partners are doing everything we can to assist genuine homeless people, whilst tackling those individuals who come in to the region to beg then leave.”
Newcastle City Council have said the roll-out of tougher powers handed to authorities put a stop to aggressive and persistent beggars from the Government have been delayed until January.
Eventually councils will have the legal power to give beggars injunctions in an attempt to prevent nuisance and annoyance to the public, and to compel them to accept accommodation and to get help for drug and alcohol abuse.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Nov 2014