Crackdown on Hartlepool 'aggressive beggars' to protect 'scared' OAPs

An operation to tackle "aggressive begging" in Hartlepool is continuing following reports from councillors of elderly residents feeling "scared".

Monday, 25th October 2021, 10:03 am

Operation Grantham was initially launched in late 2019 by the multi-agency Hartlepool Community Safety Team in response to community concerns about aggressive begging in and around the town centre.

At the latest council neighbourhood services committee meeting, concerns were once again raised of the impact of “aggressive begging” in council car parks.

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Church Square is one of the areas where aggressive beggars are said to loiter.

However council chiefs stressed, after being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, work is once again ongoing as part of the operation.

Cllr Darren Price, speaking at the meeting, said: “Council car parks, especially around the ticket machines, you always seem to get beggars hanging around for money.

“A couple of times I’ve seen old ladies are afraid to go to the ticket machine and get a ticket because they’re scared of the beggar.

“At the moment they’re working shifts, you’ve got one there for the morning then his mate will come.”

Councillor Darren Price, who represents Hartlepool's Foggy Furze ward, said he has seen elderly motorists look scared when they are confronted by beggars in car parks.

Phil Hepburn, council community safety and operations manager, said the operation with police and other partners is building up evidence again following the impact of the pandemic.

He said: “I think we’ve identified a number of people, it’s got busier the more public come back into the town centre.

“The evidence we gathered from the first one had sort of stopped and wasn’t able to be taken further in court, so we started again with that evidence building programme now with the people that we’ve got.”

He added there are some “prize sites” for beggars which have seen trouble because of different people trying to get to those locations.

Car parks are another area where beggars ask people for spare change.

Since February, council-run town centre pay and display car parks have been offering three hours free parking, which has also reduced begging, according to officers.

Mr Hepburn added: “The free promotion has scuppered some of that now as people aren’t going with change, they’re just getting a ticket.”

The wider Church Square area is another spot where people have been approached by beggars.

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