City centre issues involving rough sleepers, beggars and street drinkers continue to be a significant problem.In addressing this issue, it is important to be clear that not all or even most of the people involved are homeless. Some are homeless, some are not technically homeless but remain part of the street community some are merely criminals expoiting the generousity of passers by. It is also important to recognise the fear that the behaviour of some of this community generate in vulnerable residents and visitors.
There is an ongoing programme of outreach work seeking to meet the accommodation problems of this community and the problems of untreated mental illness, addiction and substance abuse which often underpin them.
However, we are concerned that:
- Not enough is being done to identify the criminal explotation public symapthy and modern slavery which we suspect underpins much aggressive begging.
- Systematic cuts to policing budgets and priorities set have impacted the policing of anti-social protection and public protection.
- The problems are complex and require a multi-agency response but it is not clear where responsibility for this coordination lies
- Mental health services continue to be massively underfunded across the board