ASBOs granted against four persistent beggars in Leeds city centre

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) have been granted this week against four persistent beggars operating in Leeds city centre.

This follows a range of work undertaken by Leeds City Council’s Safer Leeds team and West Yorkshire Police to crack down on begging, and specifically those people who do not live on the streets but continue to ask the public for money despite a wide-range of support services being made available to them.

As part of the conditions on the two-year ASBOs secured against the four beggars, they will be unable to enter selected streets or beg in the entirety of Leeds City Centre until 24 November 2015.

Previous attempts by a host of agencies to engage with the beggars and to refer them to appropriate support and intervention services were ignored. Two of the offenders have secure Leeds City Council housing, another resides in rented accommodation and one is of no fixed abode.

A campaign was launched by Leeds City Council and partners in January this year raising awareness of begging being a crime and asking members of the public not to give money to beggars in the city centre, but instead donate to services providing free, meaningful support.

Councillor John Hardy, Leeds City Council’s lead member for homelessness said:

"We are absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to provide meaningful support to those people who desperately need it, but will not accept persistent begging in the city centre and especially from those that have absolutely no reason to be doing it. This action that we have taken through the courts sends a strong message that begging is a crime we will not tolerate.

"I am pleased therefore that we have able to secure these ASBOs against four of the most persistent beggars, who have repeatedly ignored numerous attempts by a host of agencies for help because it seems they found it more worthwhile to beg.

"This is not acceptable, and these ASBOs will ensure these individuals will now not be able to continue to beg as before in the city centre, which can sometimes cause real distress to the public. We would urge the public not to give to beggars, and instead donate to those services in the city that are doing a tremendous job providing free food, shelter, advice and support for our homeless."

Notes to editors:

For more information on the free services provided to rough sleepers in Leeds please visit the following websites:

- CRI Leeds Street Outreach Team www.cri.org.uk

- St Georges Crypt www.stgeorgescrypt.org.uk

- St Anne’s Community Services www.st-annes.org.uk

- The Big Issue in the north Trust www.bigissuesinthenorth.com

- Emmaus Leeds www.emmaus.org.uk/leeds

- Simon on the Streets www.simononthestreets.co.uk

Anyone concerned about someone sleeping rough can call the CRI Street Outreach Team on

Tel 0113 245 9445 or during out of office hours the Council Emergency Duty Team on Tel: 0113 2409536

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk