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Cambridgeshire expands begging and ASB initiative

The operation to tackle begging and associated ASB was first launched in Peterborough two years ago but the force has now introduced it to Wisbech.

Operation Luscombe is aimed at signposting individuals who are found begging or causing ASB to support services in a bid to change behaviours. 

Officers have a four-stage approach whereby the first time they spot someone offending, they give them a green intervention ticket which is an invitation to a multi-agency hub where they can access various support services. 

The second stage, if they are spotted again, is a community protection warning, which then progresses to a community protection notice with the final stage being an application for a criminal behaviour order through the courts. 

Neighbourhoods Inspector Andy Morris explained to Police Oracle that behaviours such as street drinking and begging would come under those that would trigger a response. Rough sleeping, he explained, was slightly trickier. 

“[When officers spot somebody] they carry out their due diligence in terms of identifying the individual,” Insp Morris explained.

“Usually if somebody is rough sleeping, they’re known by the community or an agency. 

“Each case would be assessed on its own merits.

“Even if we don’t refer them to the Hub we always put in referrals to the right agency – an outreach team or Housing Authority for example. 

“I’m fully aware that if someone sees a police officer and they’re rough sleeping they might not want to engage with us but they might engage with other agencies. This partnership has allowed us to really see the parameters about what each agency can and can’t do.” 

Since it was launched in Wisbech in September, 12 individuals have been invited to the Hub seven of which have received drug and alcohol support and employment support. Two have been given a community protection warning and three haven’t attended the Hub but haven’t been seen in the area since. 

The Hub will come together on Monday mornings and go through referrals – identifying what the right agencies would be for that individual. The referrals are co-ordinated by one of the PCs in Insp Morris’ team. 

“The Criminal Behaviour Order is a tool in the toolbox and that is the end result if people don’t engage. It’s really important for me that the police are not just seen being out there being punitive but they’re out there showing they are working with other agencies, they’re understanding the wider issues and they’re breaking down barriers with the community,” Insp Morris said. 

“Just prosecuting people for begging and ASB from the get go – it doesn’t work and it’s not the right thing to do. They’ll go to court and get a fine and maybe steal to pay the fine, or if they can’t pay it they end up back in court and the whole thing becomes a tangled mess.” 

The initiative won the Cambridgeshire Problem Solving Award in 2021. 

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