Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones: 'We're still working hard to tackle begging and rough sleeping'

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones has said the council and partners are continuing to help get people off the streets despite complaints that not enough is being done on repeated begging in the town centre.

By George Torr
Monday, 29th July 2019, 2:52 pm
Updated Monday, 29th July 2019, 5:55 pm
Police on patrol in Doncaster town centre
Police on patrol in Doncaster town centre

In a written public question to the mayor, a resident named CJ Nowak asked why the same people are continually begging around the town centre despite a Public Space Protection Order being in place.

The council, in agreement with South Yorkshire Police, issued a ban on begging, loitering around cash machines, openly taking drugs and drinking alcohol, urinating or defecating in public, setting up and sleeping in tents in the town centre or any behaviour which causes alarm and distress.

Those who continue to breach the PSPO and who do not want to access support offered, can receive a fixed penalty fine of £100.

Mayor Jones said 25 known people were subject to enhanced enforcement under the PSPO.

The PSPO was implemented back in November 2017 and the council say along with their Complex Lives team, they are helping around 100 people to break the cycle of begging.

But Mr Nowak said: “I have recently been assured by a DMBC official that the Public Space Protection Order for the town centre is still in effect and being upheld when required by police community support officers, town centre ambassadors, neighbourhood enforcement officers and the police.

“This being the case why do I see the same people begging, on a daily basis, on St. Sepulchre Gate, High Street, Baxtergate and the market place car park?”

In response, Mayor Jones said: “The PSPO is still in place and it is only one part of a comprehensive plan to support people with complex issues. This includes preventing and tackling rough sleeping and homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, mental health and anti-social behaviour.

“This approach has helped many people break the cycle of begging, drug and alcohol issues.

“I want to be absolutely clear, this council is committed to supporting people in this unfortunate position and much of the focus on the PSPO is being managed to connect people to accommodation and support services.

“To do that we have to remove the barriers that begging in particular creates so it is not our aim to criminalise misfortune.

“Without a dramatic national policy change, this everyday challenge for the medium term.”