December 9 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, August 18, 2013
People living and shopping in Clacton are being urged not to give money to street beggars after a number were found to be bogus and actually living in nearby houses.
The police warning comes after one genuine homeless person complained to police about “money-grabbers” affecting his needy income and the increasing blight to the seaside resort.
A partnership approach is being taken to tackle the problem with the local council backing the police’s around-the-clock dispersal order to move along groups of congregating people causing an anti-social nuisance to others in the town or along the seafront.
Neighbourhood Constable, Pc Gary Coe, said: “These bogus beggars are dotting themselves around the town and seafront and usually arm themselves with a dog to tug at the hearts of passers-by.
“It’s ironic and sad that the unfortunate victims of this scandalous crime are the genuinely homeless people who are desperate for shelter and food. These fake beggars live in houses within the Clacton town area.”
It is a criminal offence to beg on the streets and anyone found by police to be doing so will be arrested and face prosecution.
Leader of Tendring District Council, Peter Halliday, said the council supports the police’s warning about giving money to beggars on the street who may not actually be homeless.
He said: “Unfortunately there those who will try to prey on people’s generosity and kindness and residents and visitors just need to be aware of that.
“We will support any action which will make out town centres a better environment for people to live in and visit.”
Both Essex Police and Tendring District Council are looking to enhance the quality of life for not only residents and retailers, but also for visitors as the economic prosperity of the town depends largely on tourists who may otherwise be dissuaded from travelling to or staying in Clacton.
Pc Coe said: “We would urge people to give money to registered homeless charities so that they can be sure where their donation is going.
“In many cases, the money that people give to these bogus beggars out of kindness is spent on high-strength alcohol or illegal substances.
“This can often lead to drunkenness and anti-social behaviour which undermine our efforts to make the town a safer and more pleasant place.”
The problem in Clacton following similar issues reported in Colchester a few years ago when one street beggar boasted to police that he had spent his cash on a night out, clubbing in the town centre.