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BEGGING BECOMES A RECORDABLE OFFENCE

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Begging, already a criminal offence, will from today be a recordable ...
Begging, already a criminal offence, will from today be a recordable

offence as part of the government's drive to tackle crime and

anti-social behaviour.

The change will help tackle the anti-social behaviour of some

aggressive beggars, which can intimidate the public, leading to

increased fear of crime. Research shows that two-thirds of people

resent being approached by people begging for money and more than

half of the public will not use a cash machine with a beggar next to

it.

It will also allow the police to identify repeat offenders and make

it easier for them to deal with beggars involved in more serious

crime, the offender's details will now be stored on the National

Police Computer when they are arrested.

The minister for policing and crime reduction, Hazel Blears, said:

'Although the chance of being a victim of crime is the lowest it has

been for 20 years, begging increases the fear of crime in our

communities. The public do not want to see beggars on our street,

many of whom can be aggressive and intimidating. Tackling begging is

part of the Government's strategy to cut the anti-social behaviour

which can blight communities and makes some of our public spaces

no-go areas.

'Begging is already a crime. Making it a recordable offence will help

the police deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour of many

beggars and tackle persistent offenders.

'We know that more than 85 per cent of beggars have a drugs or

alcohol addiction and are begging to fund their habits. The

government is determined to break the links between drug abuse and

crime, and is investing £447m over three years on an

innovative new programme to target persistent drug-using criminals.

We know that targeting offenders at all points in the criminal

justice system can make a real difference.'

The government has brought in new laws to tackle anti-social

behaviour in the Anti- Social Behaviour Act, passed r ecently by

Parliament.

In October the government launched 'Together', the action plan which,

along with £75m over three years, will tackle the anti-social

behaviour in communities across the country.

The Criminal Justice Interventions Programme is a range of services

designed to target drug-using offenders at every point of the

criminal justice system. By identifying drug users in the CJS we aim

to get them into treatment, off drugs and away from a life of crime.

The programme was introduced to the 30 areas worst affected by drug

related crime from April this year and on 18 November the Prime

Minister announced that an additional 36 areas would receive funding

to support the programme from April 2004.

Notes

1. The Vagrancy Act 1824 made begging in a public place an arrestable

offence and upon conviction a person may be sentenced to a maximum

level 3 fine (£1,000).

2. The Anti Social Behaviour White Paper 'Respect and Responsibility'

was published on 12 March 2003 and

the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan 'Together Tackling Anti-Social

Behaviour' was published on 14 October 2003.

3. The government is investing £447m over three years to fund

the Criminal Justice Interventions Programme which identifies drug

addicts who are committing crimes to fund their habits at every stage

of the criminal justice system. They are guided into appropriate

treatment and later resettled back into society through a unique

through care and after care programme.

4. The Criminal Justice Act will reform sentences so that the various

types of community order for adults will be replaced by a single

community order giving courts more flexibility to tailor a sentence

to address an offenders rehabilitation needs.

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