Crackdown launched against ‘aggressive’ street beggars in Hartlepool town centre
Town officials are calling on kind-hearted residents not to give money to aggressive beggars in Hartlepool.
The Hartlepool Community Safety Team, working under the umbrella of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership, has launched a new initiative called Operation Grantham in response to community concerns about aggressive begging in and around the town centre.
Police Community Support Officers from Hartlepool Neighbourhood Policing Team believe that some of the begging is organised, with some individuals making up to £50 a day.
The community team, made up of police, council and fire brigade staff, says people begging often have addiction issues which they are feeding with the money they are given.
It is proposing to use legal powers to try to curb the issue and is suggesting that people instead donate to charities such as Hartlepool Foodbank.
But it says it also needs the support of members of the public.
Councillor Shane Moore, Chair of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership and Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “People who beg often have addiction issues which are being fed by the income from this activity, so we would urge people to help us identify these individuals so we can offer genuine assistance through recovery.
“Alternatively, your donation would be better served by giving to charity.
“Members of the public also tell us that they often feel intimidated and threatened by beggars and their presence can deter them from visiting certain parts of the town.
“Where this includes premises such as pubs, shops and supermarkets, it can have a detrimental effect on the local economy.”
Pub chain Wetherspoon has pledged its support for Operation Grantham, saying that begging outside its Lloyds No1 bar The Ward Jackson in Church Square is having an adverse impact on its business. Other companies are said to have reported similar concerns.
A Wetherspoon spokesman said: “It is important that all businesses in the town work closely with the Hartlepool Community Safety Team to ensure that people can come to the town to shop and socialise in a safe environment. We support this initiative.”