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29 July 2014, 05:58
Residents and visitors to Bournemouth and Boscombe are being encouraged not to give money direct to people who are begging in an attempt to tackle a rise in this activity.
A campaign to raise awareness of the issue is being launched and people are being encouraged to text donations to the town's Rough Sleeper Team instead of giving direct to people who are begging, in a bid to help vulnerable people quickly off the streets and into accommodation and support services.
There are a wide range of accommodation and support services available in the town for people who need this help and the Rough Sleeper Team encourage people to come inside into these services as soon as possible.
A poster campaign 'Your Kindness Could Kill' is being rolled out in Bournemouth and Boscombe town centres as part of a wider multi-agency targeted campaign to tackle the anti-social behaviour issues often associated with begging.
Councillor Robert Lawton, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
"We are seeing a slight increase in these issues in Bournemouth, in particular in the town centre, the Travel Interchange and Boscombe Precinct. The public, although well intended, often give spare change direct to those begging on the street but this can perpetuate the problem and also helps to keep that person at risk as they will continue to return to the streets.
"We want to raise awareness among the public that their kindness may cause more harm than good and that by giving to organisations such as Crime Reduction Initiative (CRI) who run the town's Rough Sleeper Team, we are more able to directly help people who are having difficulties for various reasons. The Rough Sleeper Team help people access the accommodation and support services that they need in order to move away from a life on the streets."
Mark Hawkins, Assertive Outreach Worker for the Rough Sleepers Team, said:
"CRI is pleased to support the latest initiative from Bournemouth Borough Council , which discourages giving money to people begging on the streets so that funds can be diverted into established street outreach services. The diverted giving scheme offers residents and visitors to Bournemouth the chance to support people, with the confidence that their donation will be used to directly improve services for people sleeping rough in the area."
A multi-agency group, including the Council, Police and the Rough Sleeper Team, are also currently working together on a targeted plan of action to tackle the issues associated with begging, rough sleeping and street drinking.
These actions include:
- Targeted police patrols using dispersal powers where appropriate
- Continued outreach work with rough sleepers by CRI with additional frontline worker funded
- Coordinating intelligence of individuals causing ASB
- Street cleansing
- Provide supported housing options and advice
- Extension of the town's DPPO (Designated Public Place Order) Drinking Control Area
- Joint work with local churches
- Investigate tighter licensing controls