Gloucester adopts new powers to stop begging

Begging in Gloucester
Image caption The council said it was taking action after rising complaints about begging and drug-taking in Gloucester

A crackdown on begging is being taken in Gloucester after reports of rising anti-social behaviour.

New powers have been adopted by Gloucester City Council after complaints of people injecting drugs and aggressive begging.

Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) will be imposed in the city centre, banning people from begging and causing a public nuisance.

Some beggars have claimed there is not enough support for them.

Cabinet member Jennie Dallimore said some of those causing problems were "housed and in receipt of benefits" which she said "cannot be tolerated".

The new powers were given to councils under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. A PSPO was used to stop people taking legal highs around Taunton.

If people flout the new rules and refuse to engage with the council or drug charities, they could be fined or prosecuted.

"Not abusive"

Councillors at Wednesday's cabinet meeting also agreed an awareness campaign to raise better understanding of the support available for rough sleepers.

Martin, who begs on the streets, told the BBC: "I want to get myself clean but there's no help.

"I need help now, not in a few months down the line. At the end of the day they should sit here, then they would understand.

"I'm not abusive, I'm polite, I'm only sat here, I'm not going out shoplifting or going and mugging people."

But Ms Dallimore said support is available for those who want to tackle their addictions.

She said: "We have been working with not only the police but also with a lot of our charitable sector partners including Turning Point who help people with substance misuse issues.

"It's welcome news this individual wants help, and the public needs to report individuals they're coming across to us."

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