Should rough sleepers and ‘beggars’ in Suffolk be punished by police?

A man sleeps rough on the Princes Street bridge near Ipswich train station. Picture: Colin Adwent

A man sleeps rough on the Princes Street bridge near Ipswich train station. Picture: Colin Adwent - Credit: Archant

Fifteen people have been arrested in the last two years for begging for money or sleeping rough on the streets of Suffolk.

A group of homeless people set up camp on Ipswich Waterfront during the Christmas and New Year perio

A group of homeless people set up camp on Ipswich Waterfront during the Christmas and New Year period. Picture: Gregg Brown - Credit: Gregg Brown

The county’s police force has said it will only take enforcement action against those living outside if they fail to engage with help offered.

During 2015 and 2016, 10 people were arrested for begging, according to data released by Suffolk Constabulary following a Freedom of Information request. Six of whom were charged, three were summoned to appear in court and one case was resolved within the community.

While five others were detained and charged after they were “found on enclosed premises”, which a police spokesman said would mostly be people who were found sleeping on land where they had no right to be.

Both crimes come under the Vagrancy Act 1824.

The force spokesman added: “Suffolk police take a multi-agency approach to address underlying issues and provide support to those begging, through close work with local authorities and other partnership organisations.

“If however, individuals decline this support and do not engage with the police and other agencies, enforcement action will ultimately be taken.”

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