Officers and partner agencies took to the city centre this morning to tackle begging and support the homeless. Inspector John Mallows and colleagues from the Sheffield Central Neighbourhood Policing Team were active at first light, working with Addaction Sheffield to help reduce the presence of beggars and guide them to support services.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, who part of the patrol, explained: “Sadly a small number of people in Sheffield city centre choose to beg passers-by for money, often to feed an underlying issue with drugs or drink. Visitors and business owners report feeling intimidated by the beggars’ actions and the unwanted attention. This, in part, is why we are here with our partners to steer beggars away from the street and towards the help and advice available from support services.
“Those begging are often vulnerable and signposting them to social services and charity is the preferred option. But we are also committed to taking enforcement action against those who won’t engage with the support that is available from partner agencies. We have seen numerous cases over the years where effective action on our part has been the trigger for people to make positive, life changing decisions“
The latest activity forms part of the overarching Operation Duxford, which returns across Sheffield today. The latest phase of the operation will see police continue to work together with its partners and communities to conduct a proactive, intelligence led operation that focuses on offenders, victims and key locations.
Criminal Behaviour Orders and Community Protection notices have been issued in recent months to counter begging and anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
DCC Roberts added: “My colleagues and our partners have been firmly focused on drug and alcohol referral services and housing provision in recent months. Just two weeks ago, all agencies were present and signposting people to help and advice.
“Our primary aim is to help people into accommodation, if needed, and away from begging but we are prepared to take a firmer approach when necessary.
Sheffield Drugs and Alcohol Co-ordinaton Team has been at the forefront of this morning’s patrol activity, alongside the Framework homeless outreach charity, which has been supporting community engagement.
DCC Roberts concluded: “This morning, our PCSOs will also be staffing community engagement stalls in and around the city centre hotspots, giving people advice on how they can best help beggars. Giving money to some can simply serve to exacerbate their problems. We’ll be informing people how they can make a positive difference to the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable and listening to their views on the matter.
"Homelessness and begging are issues that cause a lot of public concern both for the offence it can cause but also a genuine sympathy for those engaging in it. Whilst some may for the best of reasons give money to beggars, they need to be aware that their act of generosity is often perpetuating a lifestyle for the person that will lead to their premature death”
Operation Duxford aims to increase public engagement, maximise visibility and improve confidence and trust in our communities, while bringing outstanding offenders to justice.