With the growing criminalisation of homelessness, I met up with the candidates for Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner election to ask: is begging a police issue.
Don Jerrard (Independent): The police should turn a blind eye to fairly passive begging. They shouldn’t try to cause a problem that isn’t there. The police are not social workers – they are not qualified for this.”
Michael Lane (Conservative): If there is evidence that police powers are being used disproportionately against the homeless, I would take it very seriously, and raise it with the Chief Constable.
Roy Swales (UKIP): “Holding up a sign with ‘please help me I am homeless’ is not offensive. And you cannot get rid of social issues by fining or putting people in prison”
Steve Watts (Zero Tolerance): “While I take a zero tolerance approach to policing, it is not about the police or their partners using draconian power of aggressive tactics or behaving in any way disproportionately. Aggressive begging should be controlled, and those who pretend to be beggars but have a luxury car round the corner are criminals. Public Space Protections Orders are a tactic available to Police, as with all tactics it must be used if justified and proportionate”.
Simon Hayes (Independent): “I have personally seen CCTV footage of people begging but they have a home. It is wrong and it gives genuinely homeless people a bad name”.
Richard Adair (Liberal Democrat): “Most engagements between the Police and roughsleepers are negative”