Crackdown on Chorley's street beggars with shoppers urged to not give them money
Town centre traders are urging shoppers not to give money to beggars in Chorley.
The call comes after it was discussed at the Chorley Town Team meeting on Monday night (May 20), with business owners concerned people begging under false pretences could put people off visiting.
People have recently been spotted hanging about in doorways and asking people for money and the council is vowing to put a stop to it.
Coun Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: "We’re going to nip this in the bud before it becomes a major problem and the quickest way to put a stop to begging is if people stop giving them money.
"We’ve been talking to those begging on the streets to let them know there is support if they need somewhere to stay, help with getting a job, or support in accessing treatment for any ongoing issues they may have.
"We’re helping one or two of them with things, as we would with any other resident, but they don’t need money from people visiting the town centre to live.
"If people can do their bit and not give them money we’ll take action where necessary to both help and assist these people individually, as luckily in Chorley there is no need for anyone to be without shelter, food or warmth as we as a council put lots of resources into providing for those in real need.
"We will at the same time take action against those we believe are begging as a career choice and we have already issued some Community Protection Notices (CPNs) to allow us to take action against individuals who are effectively harassing people visiting the town centre."
Begging is illegal and if people were to persist, Chorley Council has said it could look to get someone banned from the town centre.
In February 2017 a similar enforcement initiative was brought to Preston, with four patrols each day centred on Fishergate.
Beggars who ignored warnings were issued with formal notices ordering them to leave within five minutes.
A spokesman for Preston City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) said: "It's an issue in most towns/cities, to be clear, here in Preston, we are supportive of those in genuine need and look to signpost to appropriate partners.
"What we aren't supportive of is career beggars who can make significant amounts of money from generous members of the public."
Malcolm Allen, chair of Chorley Traders’ Alliance and the representative that brought the issue up at the Town Team, said he was glad the council was taking action.
"It’s good to see the council and police are already taking action but these people know the system and it can take a bit of time to rid them through the legal process,” Malcolm said.
"The best way to stop this is for people to stop giving them money or food - they may appear convincing but some are nothing but con artists taking money from people visiting the town centre while pretending to be in desperate straits.
"If you are concerned about anyone who looks like they’re sleeping rough report it to the police on 101 or contact the council and they can get people the help they need, if they are genuinely in need of support.
"It’s a relatively minor thing but beggars can be intimidating to elderly shoppers in particular and we don’t want to be seen as a soft touch."
The council is asking anyone who sees people begging to report it to the police on 101 and email [email protected] so they can keep a track of what is happening.