October 23 2014 Latest news:
Monday, April 14, 2014
A supportive multi-agency campaign to rid Ipswich of more than 20 street beggars is beginning to bear fruit, police have said.
Various organisations have teamed up to tackle the scourge of people scrounging money from shoppers and workers in the town centre.
A total of 25 men and women, some of whom can make up to £100 a day, are known to beg regularly.
The operation aims to find a long-term solution to a problem which has grown over the years.
It is a similar approach to the nationally-praised trailblazing initiatives police in Ipswich have put in place to eradicate on-street prostitution and street drinking.
Enforcement through the courts is being seen as a last-stop shop. A targeted approach is being used with the primary focus being on addressing the street beggars’ underlying issues.
Only one of the individuals identified was sleeping rough. Out of the others 64% are alcohol dependant, 68% are drug addicts while 44% are hooked on both.
The campaign organisers say the operation has already seen some successes.
At least three people have been assisted into appropriate support programmes.
However, when offers of help and support have fallen on deaf ears, arrests have taken place.
Two people have appeared before magistrates over the past few weeks leading to one of them, Bevan Ash, being given an anti-social behaviour order.
Ipswich Policing Commander, Superintendent Louisa Pepper from said: “I want to make it clear this campaign is not about enforcement. It is about getting these vulnerable people onto support packages through partnership agencies to find long-term sustainable solutions to help with what are often very complex issues.
“The aim is to offer support to people by referring them to the correct partnership agencies to receive help.
“What the public sometimes may not realise is that many of these individuals have been offered help and support by partner agencies previously, but have declined these offers.
“This is perhaps not surprising when you realise that people can be given up to £100 a day when begging.
“They do not want help from our willing partners and in these cases, when they will not co-operate, we are left with few alternatives other than to keep putting them before the courts.”
The Reverend Canon Paul Daltry, Chairman of Ipswich Winter Night Shelter said: “We want to encourage compassion, but a compassion that takes time to engage in the real needs of people that is deeper than giving a quick pound or a sandwich.
“Giving to those begging might salve our consciences, but for those begging, it may maintain their destructive life style. The choice is ours.”
Paul Clement, Chief Executive of Ipswich Central said: “Street begging is a nationwide issue facing many towns and cities. Ipswich Central, alongside our partners, will continue to work extremely hard to offer support and enforcement against this crime.”