POLICE issued 15 warnings and four cautions during a winter clampdown on begging in Rotherham town centre.
Officers have focused on street begging over the past few weeks following complaints from businesses and the public.
Insp Jenny Lax: “We know that there are cases where beggars are self-confessed, one-man crime waves, who are playing on the generosity of members of the public and choosing to beg, causing a nuisance and intimidating people going about their business.
“Our PCSOs have been visiting the addresses of individuals known to us, so we can identify those taking advantage and ensure that they are dealt with through appropriate enforcement ranging from a verbal warning to arrest.
“As a result of our positive action, we have issued 15 warnings and four cautions for begging and one person has been reported on summons.”
A day of action also took place alongside other organisations, which saw nine referrals to housing services and two to drugs support. Warm clothing was also provided to vulnerable people.
“It’s all about getting the right balance,” said Insp Lax. “There are a variety of reasons that lead to people begging, from gambling addictions to family breakdowns.
“The first step is that they are offered an instant appointment at Key Choices, the council’s housing team, and are accompanied by a PCSO to help make sure they attend.
“Second is to look at the valid reasons as to why they are begging and, for example, bring in a substance misuse counsellor.
“The key now is to ensure that we keep in touch with the people we are helping and encourage them to take the support on offer and help them to stay off the streets.”
Rotherham Central neighbourhood policing team is planning further days of action in January.
Insp Lax said: “One of our ongoing priorities is to help make Rotherham town centre a place where people feel safe, want to visit and want to work.”