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Begging Guidance

Begging Guidance

Begging and homeless are not the same thing. Not everyone who is homeless begs and not every beggar is homeless. The causes of both issues can be complicated and for some individuals may overlap.

Whenever you are in a place with high footfall you are likely to encounter people who ask you for money via begging.

Some of these people will be vulnerable and need assistance from various organisations to address physical or mental health conditions and access safe accommodation. Multi agency teams and charities can support these individuals and refer them to services to address these needs.

However, it is not uncommon for organised crime groups to use people to beg to take advantage of the empathy felt towards vulnerable people and generate income. It should not be forgotten that the individuals used by crime groups in this way may also be victims of crime through exploitation.

Aggressive Begging and Anti-Social Behaviour

The offence of begging was previously contained in the Vagrancy Act 1824 but this legislation was repealed on 28th June 2022. This brought England and Wales in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland who had already decriminalised begging. There is now no offence of begging in the UK although a review is taking of what should replace the Vagrancy Act.

With the removal of the offence of begging the focus changes to the conduct of the person who is begging and whether their behaviour is anti-social. If their behaviour is likely to cause alarm, harassment, or distress to another person then the powers within the Anti-Social Behaviour, Policing and Crime Act 2014 could be used if local areas deem it appropriate. See the NBCC’s related guides on Anti-social behaviour for further details.

If you are concerned about someone who is begging and you think they are homeless you can report them either to your local council or via Streetlink who will notify the local authority.

If the person appears under 18 call the police. If the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care dial 999.

The NBCC 'Begging Guidance' gives guidance on what to do if your business is experiencing aggressive begging and also what you can do to help - click the image below to download your copy: