Give to charity, not to beggars

Published on 10 December 2015

“DO not give to beggars, give to charity.” That’s the message from Leicester City Council and Leicestershire Police for people heading into the city during the Christmas period.

Inspector Simon Preston, Central Leicester Neighbourhood Policing Commander, is urging people not to give money to beggars but to donate to local charities who work to get people off the streets.

And a video demonstrating the most common type of street begging incidents reported to the police has been produced by Sergeant Perry from the city centre neighbourhood team and students from De Montfort University and Leicester College.

Inspector Preston said: “Our observations tell us that street begging increases at this time of year and there are people who beg in the city who have drug or alcohol dependency and are not actually homeless.

"Many people don’t realise that street begging is illegal and the reality is you don’t know where the money you give is going. We often have reports of beggars aggressively targeting elderly members of the community and also causing antisocial behaviour.

“If you want to help people who are genuinely homeless in Leicester we would suggest that you donate money to the local charities who can offer support to those in need.”

Leicester City Council has an outreach team, which goes out on a daily basis looking for rough sleepers, and offers help with accommodation and support for those with problems with drugs and alcohol.

During the winter months the council is also working with the Leicester Y Support Project, One Roof Leicester, and the British Red Cross to offer extra bed spaces at the council’s Dawn Centre. 

Every evening from now until the end of February, volunteers are helping to prepare a hot meal at the centre, where medical and mental health services are also available.

Asst city mayor for housing, Cllr Andy Connelly said: "Help and support is available for rough sleepers in the city. Most of the people who are regularly begging in the city are not homeless.

“I would urge anyone who wants to help people who really are homeless to buy a Big Issue, or give a donation to a local charity such as The Y Support Project, Leicester Shelter, or Action Homeless.”

On the run up to Christmas the police will be tackling persistent and aggressive beggars and directing those in need to partner agencies who can help and support them.

Local homeless charities include: One Roof; the YMCA; The Bridge; Emmaus; Shelter; Action Homeless.