With homelessness at a record high in the UK and concerns being raised by Rotherham’s local community, the Rotherham Central Neighbourhood Policing team have launched an operation to address the issues of begging, and new officer PC Paul Jameson is behind the joint working approach with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC).
PC Jameson became a member of the Rotherham Central Neighbourhood Policing team earlier this year in January. He joined South Yorkshire Police in 2005 and has spent time working in our Barnsley district; running a number of successful operations, as well as being deployed to the London riots, the Olympics and twice to Northern Ireland in the past year.
Being a Yorkshire ‘lad’ himself, PC Jameson said he is the most happiest when “he is on the beat, talking to members of the public and tackling problems that matter the most to them, including begging and homelessness.”
Begging and homelessness is not an easy or quick issue to tackle and not all those begging are rough sleepers or homeless, some already have housing and are receiving financial support, through benefits from the local council. These people require help and support, but with many struggling and fighting addiction, money given in their hand is not always the best way to help, supporting them in an alternative way may help them in the longer term.
To kick-start tackling the problem, PC Jameson has spent time talking to Rotherham’s beggars in the town centre, various charities that support them, local businesses and members of the public to understand who is living on the streets and what help is available and being given to them.
PC Jameson identified that there are 11 active beggars within Rotherham and work has started to support them with their circumstances.
He said: “From speaking to various people and organisations I have been amazed at the amount of support and genuine desire to help, from people providing hot drinks, meals, clothing, bedding, laundry, medical assessments and even down to hot showers for those in need.”
“However, while this support is so important and a lifeline to many, longer term issues need to be addressed, with practical support available to access housing, employment, benefits and treatment for their addictions.
“This type of support will not only help the individual but will also address the issue of begging in the town centre. “
The operation is about firstly providing simple advice, identifying individual’s needs and arranging support with the relevant workers. There will then be a clear process for those individuals that will not engage or receive help and support and this will be prosecution.
Prosecuting the individuals is not about making the problem worse by issuing fines that result in begging or crime, but enabling officers to apply for Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO’s), which restrict the places an individual can attend or other specified behaviours.
Moving forward the operation will enable people to donate money through an effective diverted giving scheme, rather than to the individual. The team will be working alongside lottery funded charity SHILOH- a scheme, which offers practical and long-term help to the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in Rotherham.
PC Jameson said: “It is easy to view somewhere in a certain way but as a relatively new outsider Rotherham town centre has some amazing places, wonderful businesses and most encouraging of all, people who genuinely care. I am proud to be one of those, and look forward to working towards Rotherham’s vision for the future.
“A successful long term solution and a positive future will only be possible with the support of the local community, as we work to tackle the problems in the area we urge the public to donate by diverted giving to ensure support goes to those genuinely in need.”
You can follow the teams work on their Twitter and Facebook pages- @RothCentralNHP
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