Police have warned members of the public not to give money to beggars in Norwich as most of them are not homeless and may even be on benefits.
People posing as beggars in the streets of Norwich, most of whom are known to be homed, can make up to £150 per day. Some even travel in from areas such as Cambridge in order to beg in Norwich, and have been seen begging on London Street, Dove Street and Prince of Wales Road.
Operation Octane, a one day crackdown aimed at tackling this problem, was launched in these areas. Plain clothes police officers attempted to catch 30 or so known offenders in the act, who were then either arrested or given a warning by uniformed officers.
However, some officers seen carrying out Operation Octane have been accused of “picking on the homeless”.
Inspector Money, who led Operation Octane, has urged people not to give money to people begging in Norwich as it may be used to feed their addictions to drugs or alcohol.
“Giving money does not help these people. The long-term aim is for them to get the help and get them to the people who can help.”
Norwich City Council has set up an alternative giving campaign and tells the public that if they want to help the homeless they should redirect their money to charities that do so.