New powers to tackle begging in town centre

A map showing the area  in Leigh town centre where the public space protection orders have been introduced
A map showing the area in Leigh town centre where the public space protection orders have been introduced

New powers have been introduced in a bid to put a stop to anti-social behaviour in Leigh town centre.

Public space protection order (PSPO) have been issued by Wigan Council and GMP which will prohibit certain behaviours occurring in the town centres such as begging, the use of intoxicating substances such as so call ‘legal highs’.

The safety of our residents is paramount and we hope that with this order will help them feel safe going about their daily lives.

Coun Kevin Anderson

A consultation took place in May following a number of complaints from residents and businesses and more than 90 per cent of responses were in favour of the order, which will last for three years and began on Monday. Breaching the order is a criminal offence.

The PSPO will mean that anyone caught with open containers of intoxicating substances or making a verbal, non-verbal or written request - including the placing of hats or containers - for money will be asked to leave the area and not return for 24 hours by a police officer or PCSO.

Failure to do so could result in a £100 fine.

Residents are being discouraged from giving money in good faith to beggars and are being advised instead to donate to a registered homeless charity in the borough.

Councillor Kevin Anderson, portfolio holder for environment at Wigan Council said: “The safety of our residents is paramount and we hope that with this order will help them feel safe going about their daily lives.”

Wigan Council offers a range of support for homeless people working in partnership with The Brick and is encouraging members to signpost anyone they see living on the streets or begging where to go to access the support that is available to them.

Kathleen Pitt, chief executive at The Brick said: “The majority of the people begging in the borough are entitled to full benefits, however they are not utilising this due to their addiction to begging. People begging will very rarely leave their spots due to worrying about the money they miss out on, therefore they are unable to attend sign on appointments, engage in social activities or even attend our project.”

“All efforts from Wigan Council and The Brick to help people stop street begging and move their lives forward in a positive way is vital. Giving money is easy but taking the more difficult step of advising someone to come to The Brick could be crucial. Please let’s act now and save lives on Wigan’s streets this winter.”

Anti-social behaviour should be reported to GMP by calling 101 or by visiting the council’s website.