Beggars need faster drugs treatment

The government’s plans to tackle begging would amount to
“enforcement without care”, a London homeless agency said this

Thames Reach Bondway, commenting on the government’s antisocial
behaviour white paper, acknowledged the need to reduce begging in
the UK’s cities but said this could not be achieved without
improved access to drug treatment services in the capital.

Chief executive Jeremy Swain said most people who begged did so to
raise money for hard drugs. Agencies working with homeless drug
users in London “have to wait up to 10 weeks to access
detoxification services for drug users when, to make a real impact,
these facilities should be available within 24 hours”.

Homeless Link, representing 700 agencies working with homeless
people, also criticised the government’s proposals to make begging
a recordable offence and said criminalising vulnerable people
“inhibits the work of our members and government to achieve greater
social inclusion”.

But, before his resignation, former home office minister John
Denham denied the white paper contradicted the aims of the Social
Exclusion Unit, adding that the plans could help beggars access
drug treatment through the courts imposing drug treatment and
testing orders.

“Although it is being presented as pure criminalisation, as much as
anything it’s making sure we are able to deal with problems that
beggars have effectively through the criminal justice system,” he

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