Torquay police say they are working hard to find a solution to begging and rough sleeping

(Last Updated On: August 22, 2017)

Police in Torquay have stated they have received a number of complaints regarding begging and rough sleeping in the town centre.

Posts on social media have recently highlighted the issue, with people complaining about begging in the town centre. Some businesses have also expressed concern. One local posted on Spotted Torquay today:

“Are any shop workers/ owners getting abuse from homeless people sleeping in there doorways ?
I’ve tried and tried to be nice and say please may we open etc.. but now we are getting abuse from them and threats. It’s not a council matter and not a police matter apparently. It’s getting a big problem here in the bay and I don’t know what else we can do to?”

Torquay Police stated on Facebook today, 22nd August:

“We receive a lot of complaints about begging and rough sleeping in the Town centre. We are working hard with our partners to provide a solution to these problems but again, there are no quick results to be had.

Begging is an offence under the Vagrancy Act 1824 and where we can, we will deal with it. In order for us to deal with begging, we have to evidence it. This means either a statement from a person who received a request for alms (money etc), or it must be witnessed by police. Clearly very few offenders will engage in begging in the presence of a uniformed police officer so evidentially it is often very challenging.

Where begging is identified, the first step is the recording of the evidence in the form of a statement, the individual concerned is given a leaflet which gives them all the information they need to receive assistance with housing, drug and alcohol services, and help with food, clothing and bedding. We then implement a dispersal authority under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Police Act 2014 which removes that person from the area for up to 48hrs. If that person returns and engages in begging again then they are normally arrested under the Vagrancy Act and charged.

Homelessness isn’t a crime. You’d be surprised how often our officers receive abuse from people in passing vehicles and those out in the town at the weekend for simply speaking to those who sleep rough in Torquay. We do engage with these individuals to find out what’s going on in their lives, see whether they are getting the help they need and to check if they’re ok.

We don’t persecute the homeless, we can’t move people on when they have nowhere to go and will actively try to signpost them to agencies that can provide help and support.

We are aware that there are some people who pose and homeless and engage in begging when in fact they have somewhere to live. This can be difficult to prove and we work closely with partners to identify who is homeless and who isn’t, taking enforcement action where appropriate.

Today, we issued two dispersal authorities for begging, removing those people from the town for 48hrs. We continue to utilise both covert and overt tactics to identify Vagrancy Act offences and will take action where the evidence supports a prosecution.

As always, we encourage reporting and appreciate the support of the public in dealing with these problems,”

Click here to read what Torquay Police are doing about drugs issues at Castle Circus:

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