Partnership is cracking down on begging problems

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Brought to you by the News Guardian.

Work is taking place to tackle the issue of begging across North Tyneside.

Concerns have been raised by local people and visitors of the problem in the North Shields, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay areas.

A joint initiative between Northumbria Police and North Tyneside Council was started in March and has resulted in a reduction in the number of reported begging instances.

Neighbourhood officers and North Tyneside Council are continuing to take action to ensure individuals who are genuinely homeless and in need of support get the help they need by working with the Homeless charity Changing Lives.

The initiative also seeks to identify those who are simply portraying themselves as homeless in order to make money while action is taken against persistent beggars who demonstrate anti-social behaviour, harassing or aggressive behaviour.

Inspector Neil Armsworth, of North Shields and Whitley Bay Neighbourhood Policing Teams said: “This operation demonstrates the benefits of a multi-agency approach to this issue and the picture has significantly improved within recent weeks.

“While some very good progress is being made, this issue is still current and all agencies are committed to dealing with this matter in an appropriate manner.”

“We’re aware that begging has become a real concern for local people who live and work across North Tyneside and we’re committed to working with our partners here to tackle the issue effectively.

“We know that begging is an extremely emotive subject and one that provokes strong reactions from people, however we need to make the public more aware about who they are handing their money over to and what is happening to it once they do.

“In almost all cases, cash which is given to those begging on the streets will be used to buy and misuse drugs and alcohol. We want those affected people to know that there is no need to beg and that the help is there for them.”

Coun Carole Burdis, cabinet member with responsibility for Community Engagement, said: “The wellbeing of all North Tyneside residents is, and always has been, our primary concern, and this work helps to protect that.

“Since its introduction, the scheme has made great progress in reducing the number of beggars on our streets and we will continue to work with our partners at Northumbria Police and Changing Lives to provide support and accommodation to those who need it.”

Jan Mallaburn, service manager for Changing Lives, said: “We’re pleased the partnership with the police has started to yield real results.

“We know from our extensive work across Tyne and Wear that giving money directly to people on the streets treats the symptom of begging and not the real cause of people problems – substance misuse or mental health issues, for example.

“The best thing people can do is support specialist, local charities like Changing Lives, and others, to help people begging address the real causes of their problems – and take steps towards long-term recovery.”