Street begging support survey

Closed 5 Nov 2017

Opened 11 Sep 2017

Feedback Updated 29 Aug 2018

We Asked

We asked for your views on what more could be done by way of support to those that beg on our streets and the potential for Leicester City Council to introduce a citywide Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to provide the police with additional enforcement powers to tackle the anti-social behaviour associated with street begging.

You Said

  • 774 responses were received in total
  • 85% of respondents consider that street begging is an issue in Leicester, with 79% of respondents stating that they see begging on a daily basis
  • 66% supported enforcement measures and 32% either did not support or were not sure
  • 84% of respondents were members of the public and 4% from specialist support services / voluntary sector / health or social care providers
  • 89% of respondents work in or visit the city centre regularly or live in the city centre
  • The type of issues associated with begging that respondents have identified as affecting them include intimidation, littering, noise, verbal abuse and public urination
  • There was strong support for increasing public awareness of the support that is currently available to street beggars. 77% agreed that this would be beneficial 
  • A significant number of respondents were commenting on homelessness / rough sleeping rather than begging.

We Did

In December 2017, the Home Office updated its guidance on Public Space Protection Orders. This has provided a greater focus on the impact of anti-social behaviour on victims and on their needs, ensuring that the relevant legal tests are met before the powers are used, underlining the importance of ensuring that the use of the powers are focused on specific behaviour that is anti-social or causing nuisance, and ensuring that the issues of local consultation, accountability and transparency are addressed.

The new guidance now specifically states that PSPOs ‘should not be used to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping, as this in itself is unlikely to mean that such behaviour is having an unreasonably detrimental effect on the community’s quality of life which justifies the restrictions imposed’.

It advises that councils should consider whether the use of PSPOs is the appropriate response to dealing with complaints about homeless people and that any Order ‘defines precisely the specific activity or behaviour that is having the detrimental impact on the community’. Importantly, councils are now directed to consider taking measures that tackle the root causes of the behaviour and consulting with homeless charities when considering restrictions or requirements that may impact on rough sleepers.

Taking into consideration feedback from the consultation and the updated Home Office guidance on PSPOs to tackle begging and rough sleeping, an alternative approach has been taken to implementing a PSPO.

Instead, a person centred partnership approach has been embedded that focuses on individual support needs and addressing the need for suitable interventions. This can include progressing appropriate enforcement measures.

We have taken on board the strong feedback regarding increasing public awareness of the support that is available to street beggars but that any campaign must not demonise beggars / rough sleepers.

It was clear from some comments provided in the consultation that there is a lack of knowledge regarding the provision that is available. This has highlighted how important it is to progress a long term communications programme to improve public awareness of support services.

Reflecting on feedback from the consultation, in addition to good practice from other cities in the UK, we have embedded a three stage partnership approach to begging:

  • Intervention – continuing to provide support and assistance for those involved in begging to address housing, alcohol and drug addiction, mental and physical health etc
  • Enforcement – regular enforcement campaigns to tackle individuals involved in street begging
  • Positive communication – embed a long term communications plan to raise awareness of the services available and to deter the public from giving directly to beggars.

Overview

Residents, businesses and visitors have raised concerns with the city council and the police about the extent of begging, especially in the city centre. Complaints have been received about aggressive and nuisance behaviour, noise, harassment, intimidation and other anti-social behaviour associated with street begging.

In response to this, we have launched an eight-week consultation that seeks views on begging, what more could be done by way of support, and the potential introduction of a citywide public space protection order (PSPO) to help tackle problems associated with persistent street begging.

 

What Happens Next

We will use the responses to help make recommendations about the proposed PSPO.

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • All residents
  • Local businesses
  • Local charitable organisations, including faith communities
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Police
  • Service providers
  • Partner agencies

Interests

  • Adult social care and safeguarding
  • Housing
  • Community safety