'˜I'm not spending cash on drugs. I need to beg to live'
Five warning notices have been issued to people begging in Preston city centre under a new crackdown.
Police said they are moving on folk who are begging – but are not actually homeless.
Since Off the Streets launched earlier this week, two other people who were found to be genuine rough sleepers have been given advice on where to go for help.
The Evening Post spoke to Darren Traynor, the first person to be given a warning notice for begging on Orchard Street.
He tore up the notice and sat back down where he was as soon as officers walked away.
Mr Traynor, a 40-year-old ex-heroin addict, is not homeless.
He has a flat in Lostock Hall but says he has no cash, food or electricity until his benefits get paid.
He was close to tears as he said: “I come here every day, police know I come here every day.
“I don’t actually ask anybody for money, if people give it they give it, if they don’t they don’t.
“I do all right, it depends, it could be £20 or £30 a day it just depends on people.
“I just don’t agree with it, if I didn’t need it I wouldn’t be here.
“This is what gets me annoyed.
“They’ve known me all my life because many years ago I was in and out of jail all my life.
“For the last four years I’ve been doing good.
“And now because I only get paid once a fortnight I’ve no money. I’ve no electric.”
“I have been clean for seven and-a-half months. I’m not spending it on drugs. I still need to survive.”
On Fishergate, one homeless man John, 38, said of the crackdown: “I think it’s cruel. I live on what I make begging.”
The Evening Post revealed a crackdown on beggars is being launched in Preston city centre on Monday.
Police, Preston Council, Preston Business Improvement District and the city’s Foxton Centre are encouraging people who want to help the homeless to donate to a special fund instead of handing over cash.
It means “professional” beggars could be issued with warning notices and even fines.
Research identified that many beggars in the city centre actually claim benefits and have a place to live.
Off the Streets will encourage people who wish to donate, to do so via official means.
Beggars who are persistent in misleading members of the public to part with cash can now be issued with a Community Protection Warning.
Individuals who continue with anti-social begging could be issued with a Community Protection Notice which could see them before a magistrate.
After the first week of the campaign, Coun Robert Boswell, cabinet member for environment at Preston Council, said: “So far we’ve issued five warning notices, although we are only at the relatively early stages and more warning notices are likely to be served. Every person issued with a warning notice has a home and place to live. It’s simply begging for money and we’ve advised that this isn’t appropriate or indeed a helpful way to live.
“We are taking great care to are offer advice about benefits and available support to help these people avoid begging. Certainly some of the people begging, but not all, are getting the message and actually appreciate the additional support we’re offering. Hopefully, more will follow as begging on the streets like this doesn’t really help anyone in the long run”.
PCSO Stephen Connolly, of Preston Police, said: “This man (Darren Traynor) was the first person we issued a community protection warning to.
“Anyone who does not comply with that may then be given a community protection notice which could involve them being summonsed to magistrates court. He has been spoken to again since. Most of the people have taken our advice on board.
“In addition to the five people who have been given warnings, we have spoken to two beggars who are genuinely homeless.
“They have not been given warnings as they have been directed where they can go for further help.”