DO NOT give money to beggars – that’s the message from the police and Portsmouth City Council.
Hampshire Constabulary and the council’s housing team and Safer Portsmouth are working together to remind people that cash should not be handed to beggars as it can fund drug or alcohol addictions.
This hinders the work of organisations attempting to work with them.
Instead, people should donate money to charities that aim to support and help the beggars.
Councillor Eleanor Scott, cabinet member for community safety, said: ‘Portsmouth people are very generous.
‘If you want to support those begging in the city to make a positive change, redirecting your kindness is the best way to help.’
Simon Hayes, Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, agrees.
He said: ‘Handing beggars cash on the street is counter-productive.
‘It’s far better to support the city’s initiatives that support individuals who beg and provide options in life to eliminate the need to go begging.’
Throughout the city, 16 prolific beggars have been identified, each with a drug or alcohol issue although only three were genuinely homeless.
They are being encouraged to seek housing with the help of the council’s housing options service. Five of the 16 were being paid benefits.
The charities can give them the help they need.
John, a former drug user who is now in recovery, was begging on the streets of Portsmouth this time last year.
He said: ‘I don’t give money to people begging now.
‘When I was begging I’d say anything to get money off people.
‘This would include making it complicated for them to buy me food so that they would give me cash instead. But I always spent it all on drugs.
‘There is so much help and support available in Portsmouth that being given money just keeps you where you are – on drugs and with no hope of recovery.’
For more information visit portsmouth.gov.uk