A homeless charity leader in Wakefield says professional beggars who treat it ‘like a business’ are finally being driven out of the city.
Kevin Dobson, who is project manager at Community Awareness Programme (CAP) on Market Street that helps hundreds of destitute people each year, spoke out after two nuisance offenders were banned from the city in recent weeks.
While there are many in need, he says the public are being conned by a small hardcore minority who do not represent most of the genuine homeless, who shun any help offered and prey on the public’s sympathies.
Mr Dobson said: “The aggressive beggars, the visible ones on the street, the majority of them see it as a business, and they can get quite aggressive.
“Some are in desperate need, there’s no doubt about that, but some are very astute. They are hoodwinking members of the public.
“They often borrow a dog and take it with them to a begging pitch and the public look at them sympathetically. We can’t tar all those people who beg with that brush, but the majority may be feeding you a line.
“They represent less than five per cent of the people we deal with. These people are the ringleaders, banning them is the right thing to do. There’s no point fining them because they won’t pay it. If you physically ban them, you are taking them away from the people they prey on.
“There are ways that people can help without giving people to those on the street. There’s a great network of people, community groups and charities and organisations that want to help - approach them.”
The two latest to be banned under Criminal behaviour orders are 30-year-old Samantha Scorer, 30, and notorious beggar, Angela Fenton, 48.
Scorer was given a 12-week jail term last month for her persistent anti-social behaviour and a three-year city ban.
Fenton, who would often sit begging outside The Ridings with a dog, was given a two year CBO.
Others to have been kicked out since the summer include 26-year-old Regan McFarlane and 46-year-old Wayne Micklefield.