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Citizenship

Beggars to Receive £100 Fines in This UK Town — and People Are Outraged

Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition condemning the introduction of a scheme that could see people fined £100 for begging in Poole, Dorset. 

The coastal town’s council announced this week that the plans to “tackle anti-social and nuisance behaviours” would come into force on April 16. 

The plans had been put on hold last month after members of the public — and the Bishop of Sherborne — spoke out against them. The Right Reverend Karen Gorham said it would make homeless people “even more vulnerable.”

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Meanwhile, Labour MP David Lammy described it as “cruel and pointless.” 

It’s part of a scheme — Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) — which are designed to tackle anti-social behaviour, crime, and disorder, and to protect individuals and communities from harm, according to the council. 

In particular, according to the local authority's statement, PSPOs prohibit people from: 

  • Begging for money, food, or drink.
  • Sleeping in car parks and doorways.
  • Drinking alcohol and verbal abuse.
  • Possession, supply, or use of intoxicating substances.
  • Behaviour likely to cause nuisance or harassment to others. 

Poole councillor Karen Rampton said the local authority wants the town “to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone who lives, works, or visits.” 

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Rampton said the town has seen an “increase” in anti-social behaviour, and the “PSPO is a tool we can use, amongst others, to tackle this behaviour.” 

“The PSPO will not be used to target any specific group such as those people sleeping rough,” she added. “The council proactively works with individuals to encourage them to use the full range of support available from the council and local charities.” 

The council said that a public consultation showed 50% of 279 people who answered agreed with the restrictions — which will be reviewed by the council in six months. 

The measures will be introduced in the town centre, Holes Bay, Alexandra Park, and the Ashley Road area. 

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The council’s statement added that members of the public who are concerned about people who are homeless or sleeping rough, could call Streetlink on 0300 5000914, or give money to organisations such as St Mungo’s. 

The news comes a month after the council for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead withdrew plans to introduce similar fines of £100 for rough sleeping, after public pressure. 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be getting married in a chapel in Windsor Castle in May, and a huge influx of tourists to the area is expected. 

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Council leader Simon Dudley released a letter director to the commissioner of the Thames Police, asking for action to be taken to stop “aggressive begging and intimidation in Windsor.” 

The council’s plan will instead be split, so rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour and dealt with separately, the BBC reported in February. 

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