A RISE in the number of beggars in Pendle has sparked calls for residents not to hand them money.

Council bosses and police have urged people not to give them money and to give to charity instead, such as foodbanks.

The calls come after an increase in beggars close to shopping areas in town centres, including Nelson.

Police have also reported a recent rise in the number of homeless people and rough sleepers during the cold weather period.

Officers said some of these rough sleepers were actively engaged in both ‘passive and aggressive begging’.

Philip Mousdale, corporate director at Pendle Council, said: “We’ve seen an increase in the number of people sleeping rough and begging in Pendle.

“We’re urging people not to give them money because we want to provide targeted support to help get them off the streets.

“The best way members of the public can help them is to give to charity rather than putting money in their hands.

“You could, for example, donate to the local foodbanks.

“Most local supermarkets have an area to donate food which is then distributed to those in need.”

The council said it is working with several organisations to provide help and support with things like food and housing.

It said it wants to make sure that anyone sleeping rough can get the help and support they need to get off the streets.

PC Tony Feather, of Nelson, Brierfield and Barrowford Police, said: “Some of these rough sleepers are actively engaged in both passive and aggressive begging close to shopping areas and our town centres.

“The problem has been highlighted to the local council and there is multi-agency support for these persons.”

It comes as new figures show more people are sleeping rough in England than at any point this decade.

Local authorities estimated there were around 4,751 rough sleepers on a single night in autumn 2017, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Anyone who sees a rough sleeper in Pendle can contact the council’s community protection officer on (01282) 661280.

Residents should state where they have seen someone and give a brief description of the person, so the council can try and find them.