ENFORCEMENT teams responsible for reducing antisocial behaviour in Barnsley town centre have warned repeated offenders that they will be prosecuted - after a beggar was banned from the area for three years.
Claire Whitty, 40, of Bank Street in Worsbrough, appeared at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court in relation to four offences of begging and four breaches of a community protection notice (CPO) in the town centre.
She was handed a criminal behaviour order (CBO) after continuing to beg, and it will be in place for three years with a prohibition not to beg within a designated area.
A public space protection order (PSPO) was first brought in across the town centre and some residential streets in 2016 - effectively banning offenders from entering the area - but it’s since been adapted to include issues with dogs, such as fouling and requiring pets to be kept on leads in certain areas.
According to a council report, a revised PSPO will come into force next year, continuing a focus on ‘aggressive and persistent begging’ which Ms Whitty was convicted of.
A police spokesperson added: “If she is caught again, she will be in breach of the order which is a criminal offence.
“The 40-year-old was also handed a conditional discharge for 24 months at the hearing on October 19.”
South Yorkshire Police - cited as a ‘key partner’ of the council’s in the enforcement of the PSPO which has been hailed as a success - will focus on current aspects of the long-standing order, which covers Peel Street, Midland Street, Peel Square, Wellington Street, Eldon Street, Race Street, Peel Parade, Sackville Street, Market Hill and County Way.
A council report added: “Following the implementation of the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, the council made a PSPO in 2016 for Barnsley town centre and some surrounding residential areas where evidence existed at that time to justify making such an order, and with overwhelming support from partners and the public.
“The current PSPO has been successful in reducing antisocial behaviour throughout the town centre with many of those breaching the order and issued with warnings or dispersals taking notice and not receiving a fixed penalty notice.
“PSPOs are used to regulate activities in public places, giving local councils and police additional powers to tackle antisocial behaviour, but they’re not a tool to use to punish people and we’ll always strive to offer appropriate help and support to the most vulnerable people in Barnsley.
“It is important to note that the enforcement of any begging-related offence is taken following a selective and judicious approach to ensure suitability.”
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said: “From April 2020, the council added five wardens to work alongside the police team as a visible resource to help people feel safer, provide assistance, and support visitors and businesses in the town centre.
“All our uniformed resources, including those mentioned above, alongside the parking enforcement team, markets team and environmental enforcement team, work from one central location at the Glass Works, leading to a joined-up working approach.
“We’ve renewed and added more CCTV within the town centre to maximise impact to deter and detect crime, as well as the PSPO.
“These have helped us achieve a sustained year-on-year reduction in antisocial behaviour since 2017, with the latest figures showing almost a 60 per cent decrease in the levels recorded four years ago.
“For the handful of people who cause problems, we have secured court orders to prevent them from coming into the town centre and will prosecute where they are in breach of the PSPO.
“Through our partnership working, we are making sure Barnsley is a safe place and that residents and visitors can come together to enjoy all our town centre has to offer.”