Express & Star

Wolverhampton city centre beggars 'making £500 a day'

A beggar in Wolverhampton city centre has been making up to £500 a day despite not being homeless, according to a city council boss.


The news comes as the council looks to use a private security to tackle begging amid concerns that police are 'reluctant' to intervene.

Wolverhampton's city environment boss, Councillor Steve Evans, says 'by and large' beggars in the city are not homeless and just want money for alcohol.

He said: "Begging still exists and I don't think anyone appreciates coming into the city centre and doing shopping and being approached by someone asking for money.

"We have got some information that one man was making between £300 to £500 a day and wasn't homeless at all.

"I don't think it's acceptable and I am quite open to looking to use our existing partner, Kingdom Security, to tackle it."

Kingdom Security target litter louts in the city, using a team of wardens who hand out £75 on-the-spot fines under a zero-tolerance approach. Now, Councillor Evans wants to extend their powers to deal with beggars.

It is hoped that they would be able to gather evidence on beggars which could then be used in court proceedings in a bid to ban problem beggars from the city centre.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the council's vibrant and sustainable city scrutiny panel. Minutes show the panel discussed begging in the city centre and there was 'concern that the police were reluctant to use their powers to deal with this issue or intervene when they see instances'.

Councillor Evans added: "I am open to looking at working with our partners to see if we can get them to take enforcement,because we have to prove someone is begging. I think they are really well placed to carry out that work and enforcement.

Sergeant Paul Frear, of Wolverhampton police, said: "We work with the council to resolve issues around nuisance beggars.

"We want to help people who have complex needs and struggle to access services by directing them to benefits, housing, alcohol and substance abuse services or mental health support.

"But begging is an offence and those who ignore warnings will be arrested by officers and taken to court."

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