‘Please do not feed the drinkers’ is the message from one city centre PCSO who is trying to crack down on people downing booze in public.
PCSO John Charlesworth says police have been trying to move drinkers on from outside Tesco on West Street – but well-meaning residents giving them tea, cake and biscuits could be encouraging them to congregate.
PCSO Charlesworth told a meeting of Sheffield City Centre Residents’ Action Group: “We have got a lot of people in West Street.
“Some residents have been bringing them down tea and biscuits and cake when the weather is cold.
“I can’t say to an old lady, ‘You can’t bring tea and biscuits down’ because it’s a nice thing she’s doing. I can’t say, ‘You are not allowed to do that’. We have to word it very well. It’s a nice thing to do.
“But if you know residents in these blocks, have a chat with them and ask them to refrain.”
The community support officer stressed the drinkers are not causing trouble, nor are they responsible for a current spate of ‘aggressive begging’ in the area.
He added: “An old lady fell on her face. The only people who ran to help her were two street drinkers.”
Tim Renshaw, chief executive of the Cathedral Archer Project which helps the homeless, encouraged people wishing to help to support food provision projects instead such as the Sunday Centre, the Archer Project and St Andrew’s Church.
He said: “Street drinkers know where to find sources of food. So in a way it isn’t really necessary, but I understand why people would want to do it.
“If people want to support people getting food on the street we would encourage them to support these charities or groups that are working with them to provide food.”