READER’s VIEW: This is not the way to solve the problem of homelessness - don’t blame the victims

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I am writing to express my concern about the article on the front page of The News concerning street begging (Enough is enough, Nov 24).

I was appalled to see that the angle taken about this very worrying situation is that many of these people are not genuinely homeless or in need, and that they create a nuisance and present a risk to society.

There was no evidence given for this opinion and no recognition of the underlying reasons which reduce people to this behaviour, which until the past five or six years was rarely seen on streets in this country.

Certainly my experience of street beggars, who sadly I talk to and see far too frequently, is that they are desperate and often quite unwell people who have been driven to this behaviour for a variety of complex reasons.

Whereas our society used to provide preventative services and support for vulnerable people (youth workers, drug and alcohol services, housing advice/support, well-funded health services and so much more) the fact that these have now been drastically cut has of course contributed to the current crisis of street beggars.

I think Councillor Jones’ time and effort would therefore be much more productively spent in lobbying her government to reinstate some of these services, rather than blaming the casualties of these cuts.

I am also very concerned that this sort of coverage in the press is likely to lead to an increase in abuse of vulnerable people and hate crime, and that it is arguably irresponsible and very unhelpful.

Sheila Taylor (Mrs)

King Street, Emsworth