Reports of an Increase in Begging in Dorking
Mole Valley District Council is working closely with the Mole Valley Neighbourhood Police team to address a reported increase in begging in Dorking town centre.Enquiries made by the Mole Valley Safer Neighbourhood Police team have led them to believe that any number of the individuals seen begging in the town centre are not homeless or in need and may be linked to criminal activity.
Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) and the police have been working together to address this increase by offering assistance where needed and taking necessary action if individuals are identified as begging unlawfully. Begging is an offence under the Vagrancy Act, though help and support is offered to those beggars who are legitimately homeless and in need.
To report instances of begging, please either contact the police on 101 or contact MVDC's Housing Options team on 01306 885001. MVDC does its best to prevent homelessness by intervening as early as possible. If you are concerned about someone you've seen sleeping rough, or whose home is temporary or insecure, please report it by calling 01306 885001 or visit www.streetlink.org.uk.
Mole Valley Borough Commander Inspector Karen Coyne said: "We are continuing to monitor the situation after receiving a number of reports of begging in Dorking town centre. Concerns were raised after we heard that some of these beggars are turning down offers of food and drink from members of the public, stating that all they want is money. Our officers have been out speaking to these beggars, and have moved a number of them on.
"We appreciate that many of those begging are vulnerable and in genuine need, and support is available from social services and local charities. However, we would urge the public not to hand over money as some of these beggars may not be genuine and may be involved in criminal activity."
Councillor David Hawksworth CBE, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, said: "This Council has an excellent record in addressing the needs of the homeless and other vulnerable people in the District, and it is disturbing to see this increase in begging in Dorking town centre. We have however been given reason to believe that some of these individuals are not legitimately in need, following investigation by the Mole Valley Neighbourhood Police team. We will continue to work closely with our partners to take appropriate action and prevent individuals from begging unlawfully. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to us or to the Police so we can investigate if there is unlawful activity and assist any persons found to be really in need."