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Zero tolerance for beggars Blackburn town centre
A ZERO tolerance approach to begging in Blackburn town centre has seen six people fined by the courts.
Town centre police launched a crackdown after receiving a stream of complaints about beggars from shopkeepers and town centre managers.
During the ongoing operation, five men and one woman who persistently hassled shoppers in Ainsworth Street, Church Street and Lord Street were charged with begging.
Collectively Neil McCartney, 29, of Heaton Street, Lyndsey Standaloft, 27, of Colleridge Street, Gavin Whalley, 40, of no fixed abode, Oliver Rowley, 69, of Gretna Walk, Andrew Knagg, 41, now deceased and Brian Harby, 38, of Rawstorne Street, all Blackburn were fined a total of £345 and detained for several hours in the courthouse by magistrates.
Blackburn town centre Sgt Dave Clarke said he was pleased with the year-long crackdown and said it was a real deterrent to the problem.
He said: “As a town centre police force we are keen not to go the way of places like Manchester, where shoppers are approached by beggars all the time.
“Beggars are people on the margins of society, often trying to raise money to fund a habit or addiction.
“After receiving a series of complaints we decided to take a zero tolerance approach. Begging is historically seen as more of a nuisance than a criminal matter but after taking advice from the CPS we arrested and charged six persistent offenders.
“After this we noticed the word spread very quickly among other beggars and the issue started to go away.
“We have recently received new complaints from shopkeepers in the town and we have decided to raise the issue as a priority again.”