Giving help to those who need it and who are willing to access it is important to us, but we also have a responsibility to the wider community. Begging is illegal and the law is there to protect everyone.
In no way are we suggesting that you shouldn’t be kind. What we are asking is that if you really want to help change the lives of people who have a genuine need that you do it in ways other than giving money direct to individuals who beg.
How can you make a difference
If you’d like to make a real difference and a difference that lasts, you can:
- Talk to people begging if you think the circumstances are safe to do so, and offer to buy them something to eat
- Make a donation to one of a number of charities working to help people who are genuinely street homeless or others who need help with addictions to alcohol or drugs. We can’t advise you who to give your money to, that’s entirely your decision. (Not all people begging in Torbay are homeless and not all have harmful addictions
- Volunteer some of your time to a local charity and provide practical help to those who need it
- In no way are we suggesting that you shouldn’t be kind. What we are asking is that if you really want to help change the lives of people who have a genuine need, that you do it in ways other than giving money directly to individuals who beg
You can report street begging in Torbay to the police by telephone 101 (non-emergency number) or our Anti-Social Behaviour Team on telephone 01803 208025.
Everybody is unique and everybody has a story to tell. In the majority of cases though, the individuals who have been identified as begging in Torbay are not all homeless. The reality is that donations made by the public are often used to buy drugs or alcohol and not for food or a drink.
Those who are begging and who might be addicted to drugs and/or alcohol are at risk of harm and even death. As well as the damage caused to their minds and bodies, the effects of drug and alcohol addiction can leave them really vulnerable to being the victims of crimes like assault and sexual violence. The flip side of that is also that individuals who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol can also be intimidating to other members of the public.
Giving money to people who beg can make people feel good in that moment but a well meaning action can have terrible consequences later. The reality is that after that moment has passed it is likely whatever money has changed hands might be spent on drugs and alcohol.
Being kind is a wonderful thing but there are other ways to help, rather than giving money to people who beg. They might be glad of a drink or something to eat.
Most people in Torbay who are begging are not in temporary difficulties, but people who use begging as their main income.
If you have no address, you can claim benefits and there are many services in Torbay where homeless people can get food, clothing and support.
Whatever someone’s story, if they need help to find a home or with an addiction or anything else, they need proper help, which is why we would encourage them to work with a local service to get real support to help them change their lives for the better.
We and the police work with a lot of organisations and services every day to help people who genuinely need a safe place to live. As well as taking legal action against people who break the law, a huge part of our and the police’s job is to try and protect individuals and the wider community from harm. Behind the name of the organisations police officers, our officers and outreach workers are human beings, the majority of which come to work to help people.
As well as those who are begging there are also a huge number of residents and visitors to Torbay who deserve to feel safe in their community, and begging does not help this.
Homelessness is a very serious issue and we will continue to work with individuals who are genuinely homeless to try and get them the accommodation and support they need. Of course not everybody who is homeless has a drug or alcohol problem. Everybody is unique and everybody has different personal circumstances.
The majority of individuals who have been identified in Torbay begging are not homeless.
When we see someone begging it’s completely natural for us to make assumptions about their circumstances, one of which is that they’re homeless. The majority of people who are begging in Torbay are not homeless.
You can make a donation to local organisations working hard to support people who are homeless. That way you know that your donation is going towards something that is actually going to help people properly. If you want to do more you could donate some of your time as a volunteer.
Nobody is saying ignore homeless people. If the circumstances are safe to do so you may feel that you could talk to them, ask if they’d like a cup of tea or food just please don't give them money. Giving change might make you feel good for a second, but your kindness could do a lot of damage.