Council seeks your views as it considers toughening up begging ban in Luton town centre

Luton Borough Council is seeking the public's views as it considers toughening up begging restrictions in the town centre.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 3:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 3:23 pm

The current Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) was implemented in Luton town centre in July 2018 and bans seven specific behaviours in and around George Street and Bute Street.

These include begging, street drinking, dogs off leads, leaving dog mess, spitting, urinating and defecating.

Now, the council seeks to toughen up the begging ban as well as extend it to the Galaxy Centre area. The current PSPO in relation to begging means that a person only breaches the rule if they do not stop begging when asked by an authorised officer.

Luton town centre
Luton town centre

The new proposals would also allow the council to issue fixed penalty notices to beggars, but there will be other options available including issuing warnings, using restorative justice measures and referring individuals to support services.

Cllr Aslam Khan, portfolio holder for community safety, said: “Residents have commented on anti-social behaviour in past surveys and the PSPO has been successful in a number of ways in helping reduce this.

"Since it has come into place though, officers have been issuing requests to stop begging daily which has provided a short term resolution, but not a longer term behaviour change.

“We recognise that enforcement is not a solution in isolation - it runs alongside initiatives to support the individuals in the long term not to engage in begging.

" A small number of people who beg are also rough sleeping and there are a number of resources in place to provide access to accommodation, hot food, and showers all year round for them. Since September 2018, over 200 people have been moved off the street and into accommodation.

“Working together with our partners such as Mary Secole, Signpost, ResoLUTiONs and NOAH there are also services in place to help with longer term change such as access to drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services.”

Matthew Bushnell of the Homeless Partnership added: “Begging is a complex issue. Someone who begs might not be homeless, but they are a vulnerable person who needs support and help.

"Enforcement is not the only solution and if we work together, we can give the right response so people no longer need to beg.”

To view the proposed changes to the PSPO and complete the survey, visit www.luton.gov.uk/consult. The survey ends on Wednesday, February 5.