Homelessness and Begging in Lichfield

Fri, 22/03/2019 - 11:58

Homelessness and begging

Homelessness and begging In Lichfield

The community safety team at Lichfield District Council has asked the following be brought to the attention of BID members.

It has come to our attention within the community safety team that there is a current issue with individuals who are begging in the city centre. Businesses are concerned that these individuals are affecting their trade and have asked whether Lichfield District Council in partnership with other agencies are able to address these issues.

As you may be aware there are certain laws that cover begging that fall within the Vagrancy Act 1824 (section 3), Highways Act 1980 (section 137) and the Public Order Act 1986 (section 5) under which people can be prosecuted if their behaviour meets the threshold of those offences.

Having discussed with our police colleagues they have not had a pattern of reports or requested any joint working with the Council to address any issues reported. If begging is the issue and they are asking for money, potentially a crime is being committed and the police can advise/send out an officer so please contact 101. If they are being aggressive or causing fear for public safety there is an option to call 999.

We appreciate that there are concerns with the amount of time it can sometimes take to get through to the 101 switchboard and the community safety team have communicated this to our police colleagues. The BID is actively working with the police to look at alternative ways to report such incidents.

We need to differentiate between those who are begging but have accommodation and those who are rough sleeping. Those who are rough sleeping can be referred to our housing options team for advice and support on their housing options, whilst we would like to gather some more information on where the issues with begging are occurring, i.e. time, place, who (description if not known). Additionally a description of what these people are doing. 

Here is some relevant information about those that may be potentially homeless:

If the Council receives a report of a rough sleeper, our housing options team will conduct a site visit to try and engage with them and encourage them to attend a housing options interview. Our website contains details of what members of the public should do if they see a rough sleeper and the Streetlink service:

https://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/Residents/Housing/Homelessness/Rough-sleeping/Concerned-about-someone-sleeping-rough.aspx.

If you have any information you would like to pass onto our community safety team please email community.safety@lichfielddc.gov.uk or for further advice call 01543 308777 and speak to one of our community safety officers.

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