Rough sleepers in Sheffield '˜choosing' to spend nights on the streets

Rough sleepers in Sheffield are '˜wilfully refusing' help and opting instead to spend nights on the streets of the city centre.

Thursday, 13th December 2018, 1:44 pm
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 7:27 am
A rough sleeper in Sheffield city centre.

That was the claim from councillors and police at a meeting of Sheffield City Residents' Action Group (SCCRAG).

PC Paul Briggs, of Sheffield Central neighbourhood policing team, said the issue of rough sleepers was not a simple one to solve.

A rough sleeper in Sheffield city centre.

He told SCCRAG members said: 'We can't enforce our way out of this issue. We have found recently that, certainly around begging, that cases go to court, they haven't got any money and they get a massive fine because the legislation is so archaic.

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'We have to understand as well that some of these people are wilfiully refusing to either get help or want help.

'It's very difficult to get somebody to have to sign and look for jobs and satisfy all the criteria they need to get their beneifts sorted.'

A beggar on the streets of Sheffield city centre.

PC Briggs added that the supply and use of the drug spice and rough sleepers was the city centre policing team's main priority.

He said officers were having thousands of '˜engagements' '“ conversations '“ with rough sleepers on the city centre streets every day.

PC Briggs said: 'We have got four buisness impact statements from firms on East Parade but it's extremely difficult to police because you have got to prove that someone is causing alarm, harassment or distress.'

Coun Mazher iqbal, Sheffield Council's cabinet member for business and investment, said he was aware of the concerns of businesses in the city centre.

He said: 'The challenge for us is, businesses are fed up because it puts punters off and how do we address it?

"We can't just fine people because what is that going to do?"

The council's drop-in clinic for Spice users runs every Thursday from 1pm-3pm at 44 Sidney Street, Sheffield, S1 4JP.

For more information call 0114 272 1481.