Beggars could face fines under new Sunderland plans

Beggars could face fines in Sunderland.

Beggars could face fines in Sunderland.

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Aggressive beggars and people who rake through bins in Sunderland could face fines under new plans.

Sunderland City Council’s cabinet has agreed to begin consultation on new Public Space Protection Orders following a meeting on Wednesday.

Bin raking is a new and emerging issue within the city centre.

Report

The rules will be introduced if public consultation backs them.

Coun Harry Trueman, deputy leader of the council, said: “Before making one of these orders, the council must also carry out consultation with the police, the Police and Crime Commissioner, the owners and occupiers of any land included in the order which is not in council ownership, and wider consultation with representatives from the community.”

The report to cabinet outlined how Sunderland city centre, and parts of the Millfield, Ashbrooke, and Hendon wards, subject to consultation, could see the first order.

There could then be consultation for areas across Sunderland to also get orders.

Failing to comply with an order could see offenders issued with a £75 fixed penalty notice or fines up to £1,000.

The report noted how a city centre order could introduce prohibitions on alcohol, with police and authorised officers having the power to confiscate it in a public space – excluding licensed premises – where they believe it is causing or is likely to cause anti-social behaviour.

Any person engaging in anti-social or nuisance behaviour while begging could also face punishment, along with anyone searching or taking items from rubbish bins.

The same would apply to those who street trade, while there could also be prohibitions on dog fouling, and dogs could be excluded from play areas.

The anti-social use of skateboards and cycles would also be targeted, as would psychoactive substances.

The report to the cabinet stated: “Bin raking is a new and emerging issue within the city centre.

“It is a problem that occurs frequently and is attracting organised groups from out of the city to come and rake the bins.

“It has been found that beggars within the city are from out of the area and seem to have been displaced from other local authority areas were action has been taken against them.

“Police have taken action against a few individuals who have been persistent and aggressive to visitors within the city centre after numerous warnings.”

A consultation period was proposed as part of the cabinet report and more details are now being finalised.

The 2014 Anti-social Behaviour and Policing Act introduced a range of new tools and powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, including the ability to introduce Public Space Protection Orders.

The orders are geographically defined and can contain locally agreed prohibitions.