Police urged to act over Shrewsbury beggars
Rotary club members have called for police action over beggars on the streets.
West Mercia Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans was told at a meeting of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club that beggars in Shrewsbury were ‘wily people’ who know how much money they are getting.
Members told Mr Evans they were not being moved on, despite the police talking to them.
At least one member of the club challenged Mr Evans about what Rotarians described as a ‘significant problem of begging in doorways’ in Shrewsbury.
However, Mr Evans, who was a guest speaker, responded by saying that a considerable amount of work had been done on the issue and invited club members to view the efforts first hand.
The issue of begging in Shrewsbury led to the introduction of an Alternative Giving scheme, which is being run by the Team Shrewsbury partnership. It provides collection tins that people can give to rather than handing money to individual beggars.
Concerns have been raised by businesses that aggressive begging puts off visitors to the town, affecting tourism and hindering the town’s economy.
Mr Evans told the meeting that efforts are still ongoing with partners through the Homeless Outreach Street Triage (Host) project, which has seen a number of homeless people being found accommodation and support.
He acknowledged that in many cases there was a very ‘sad story’ attached to them and they needed the right help and support. He told the meeting that he accepted, but was disappointed to hear, that members had recently seen a considerable number of homeless on the streets.
And he gave an open invite to any member who would like to see at first hand the work and some of the successes that Host was achieving.
On another issue, he was told of the concerns residents of the town had about cyclists who ‘roared down’ Castle Street.
Mr Evans said that there had been an increase in incidents involving cyclists as their popularity had grown over recent years and added that ‘it is an area we are working on as part of our wider road safety strategy’.
Concerns over cyber crime were also brought to his attention. “What is the West Mercia Police line on that?” he was asked.
“A fair point,” Mr. Evans responded. “Cyber crime is here, it is a national priority and a priority for us as a police force.
“We have created a new cyber crime unit for whom the biggest focus is prevention and part of their remit is to advise and guide our frontline staff.
“There is a lot of work we need to continue to do with banks and businesses to prevent cyber crime. It is a priority for us.”
Mr Evans gave Rotarians a half hour presentation on a number of issues that included West Mercia’s priority for policing in the county.
On child sexual abuse, which has been the focus of a number of national media reports and an imminent inquiry commissioned by Telford & Wrekin Council, he told Rotarians: “This is going on in Shropshire as it is in every town in the country.
“Although we have seen an increase in reports of child sexual exploitation, some of this will be because we are doing a lot of work in education and with partners to identify individuals and we are encouraging people to report matters to us.
“We are now able to identify more individuals at risk of being a victim of this type of crime than we have been previously.”