Police say the ‘rough sleepers’ in Ely, Cambridgeshire, are misleading the public
Sergeant Phil Priestley: begging ‘can be a lucrative opportunity’ for opportunists
Claim every homeless person has been offered a housing and support options
Police have claimed every beggar in one city is a fraud who makes a ‘substantial amount of money’.
Officers have stated there are no genuine rough sleepers in Ely, Cambridgeshire, and are concerned the ‘homeless’ are misleading people.
Members of the public are being urged to give them food or warm drinks instead of money.
Cambridgeshire Police say they’ve been responding to an increase in the number of beggars operating in the area but can confirm there are no rough sleepers in Ely.
According to latest figures around 4,751 of people are sleeping rough on any one night in the Britain and around 600 of them are in the Cambridgeshire area.
Police claim housing and support has been offered or given to everyone known to be involved in street begging in the city.
Officers say they are ‘keen to impress upon people that there are no rough sleepers in Ely.
Officers have advised the public to give beggars food or a warm drink instead of money
It’s claimed housing and support has been offered or given to everyone known to be involved in street begging in the city
This issue is currently being tackled by East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) in partnership with police.
Sergeant Phil Priestley said: ‘There are no rough sleepers in Ely – all of the individuals that have been seen begging recently have been catered for with regards to housing and support.
‘We do not want people to be mislead, because it can be a lucrative opportunity.
‘It is natural to feel for anyone who appears to be living on the streets or who seems to be affected by hardship.
‘We urge anyone who wants to assist the issue of homelessness to donate to registered charity who will take a co-ordinated approach to tackling the problem.
‘If you do feel moved to give something – offer food or a warm drink by all means – but please do not offer money.’
A spokesman for East Cambridgeshire District Council said it has taken thorough steps to ensure that rough sleepers find support.
Housing and community safety manager Angela Parmenter said: ‘Sometimes people don’t want to engage with us because it is possible to earn substantial amounts of money on the streets of Ely’
Angela Parmenter, housing and community safety manager at ECDC, said: ‘Sometimes people don’t want to engage with us because it is possible to earn substantial amounts of money on the streets of Ely.
‘It may appear that the local authority is uncaring – but in truth we are making support available.’
However, one resident has commented on their Facebook page to disputed this.
She said: ‘The man called Charlie who usually sits in the cloisters is genuinely homeless. Yes he has a phone but it’s a basic £10 one that a man brought him.
‘He doesn’t do drugs or drink alcohol. He loves his hot chocolate and is very appreciative when you take him a hot drink.
‘I know a lot of the others that also sit around asking for money ARE NOT HOMELESS.
‘Charlie has been to see about trying to get room in the hostel. Hopefully he will get lucky and get a roof over his head very soon.’
The news in Ely comes after Conservative Simon Dudley said beggars in Windsor could present the town in a ‘sadly unfavourable light’ when Prince Harry marries American actress Meghan Markle in May.
He drew criticism from figures including Prime Minister Theresa May after a letter to police last month, in which he complained about ‘aggressive begging and intimidation’, and ‘bags and detritus’ on the streets.
But at an extraordinary meeting of the Tory-led council defeated a motion accusing Mr Dudley of bringing the authority ‘into disrepute’ by 43 votes to 9.
Mr Dudley told the meeting: ‘I categorically disagree with the motion. I think it’s driven by personal issues from some individuals which are longstanding and well known by this council.’
Mr Dudley had urged police to use their powers under the 1824 Vagrancy Act and the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to ‘protect residents and tourists’.