Lincolnshire

Three charged in Lincoln begging crackdown

A crackdown on begging in Lincoln has seen three people charged and warning letters handed out.

Operation Woodpecker began two weeks ago, focusing on people who were asking for money but who in fact had homes in the area.

Police said the move had been prompted by written and verbal complaints from members of the public.

Officers emphasised the operation also offered help to those genuinely without somewhere to live.

Those challenged by police are first given a letter which both warns them they will be arrested if found a second time but also contains contact numbers for support services.

'Hidden agenda'

Insp Mark Garthwaite said: "While we do have people who live on the streets of Lincoln, with serious personal and financial problems, there are also some who are simply using this as a way of making money - and sometimes they are threatening and intimidating to achieve their aim.

"If you have genuine problems then we are here to help you, if you are simply using begging as a way to extorting money from people, then you are not welcome in Lincoln".

Brenda Shielf, from homeless charity The Nomad Trust, said: "When people pretend to be destitute it does impact on those who are genuinely homeless.

"We are not advocating begging and if someone is really in need of help, they should be pleased with a cup of coffee - if they are asking for cash you have to think there is a hidden agenda."

All three people charged with begging have been bailed ahead of court dates later in the month.

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