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Agressive begging concerns in Blackburn town centre
9:00am Friday 13th September 2013 in News
AGGRESSIVE and persistent beggers who have targeted Blackburn town centre shoppers and workers are to be tackled by police.
Shoppers said that they were left ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘vulnerable’ after being persistently asked for money and cigarettes by several individuals and groups around the Cathedral grounds, boulevard and market areas.
One woman who works in the town said that she had reported the incident to the police after being threatened for money outside Morrisons Supermarket in Railway Road.
Blackburn’s town centre policing team had previously launched a crackdown on aggressive begging in the centre in April as businesses complained that it was negatively affecting their businesses.
One worker said: “I was on the phone when he came up and asked for directions to Blackburn Hospital.
“He kept asking if I knew the way to Blackburn Hospital, stepped right up in my face and old me that he had been homeless for several years and needed some money.
“I reported it to the police because it left me feeling vulnerable and shook up.
“I don’t think there’s any excuse for aggressive begging, whatever the situation.”
The man was described as Asian, in his 30s, spotty but clean shaven and wearing a white shirt with blue trousers.
Staff at the Postal Order pub in Darwen Street previously spoken to the Lancashire Telegraph about the problem.
Manager Rob Hill said: “We’ve not really seen an improvement since April in terms of people coming into the pub begging.
“It’s a problem and puts people off.
“I think the police are trying their best but it seems like a hard problem to tackle.
“Maybe more relevant support was provided for people who are homeless or have addiction problems would help the situation.”
Meanwhile Blackburn Cathedral Canon Ian Stockton said: “We haven’t had issues with aggressive begging recently but when we see people on our property we will approach them and deal with them appropriately by asking them to move or offering support.”
Sergant Nick Everett said: “Over recent months we have been working with our partners to tackle begging in the town centre.
“The use of high visibility policing, CCTV and swift responses have led to early interventions to deter those identified individuals from this behaviour.
“I would ask that any person who sees begging taking place in Blackburn town centre to report the matter to the police so that we can address this issue properly.”
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