Woman banned from begging in Sunderland city centre after behaviour 'intimidated' public
A woman has been banned from begging in Sunderland city centre for 12 months after her behaviour ‘intimidated’ the public.
Kim Waters, 39, of no fixed abode, was also ordered to attend a drug treatment programme under the terms of an injunction brought by Sunderland City Council.
In papers submitted to a hearing at Sunderland County Court, the City Council described Waters as 'a persistent and habitual beggar' who regularly stops members of the public in the city centre to beg from them.
The local authority also said numerous complaints had been received from members of the public and from businesses whose trade had been affected by her continued activities.
And it added that Waters is a habitual drug user who uses begging and petty crime to fund her addiction.
The council said this behaviour 'has caused and continues to cause harassment, alarm and distress to the public', many of whom are ‘intimidated’ by her appearance and behaviour into giving her money.
Waters did not attend the hearing, but the injunction was granted after Deputy District Judge Pescod said he felt she had received adequate notice of the hearing and that granting the injunction would give her the opportunity to receive treatment for her addictions.
Speaking after the hearing, Fiona Brown, Sunderland City Council's Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, said: "We welcome the court's decision. We always try to work with vulnerable people, as we did in this case, to make sure that they get the help and support that they need.
“But where those offers of help and support are rebuffed and the behaviour of an individual is having a significant impact on members of the public, we have no alternative but to seek legal action.
"People have every right to feel safe in the city centre while going about their normal business without being intimidated by behaviour of this type, as do the city's businesses. We have worked closely with Northumbria Police, city centre businesses, Bridges Shopping Centre staff and Sunderland BID to bring this case to court."
Sergeant Maria Ord, of Northumbria Police, said: "It is important to recognise some of these individuals can be incredibly vulnerable and a number of complex factors may have led them to beg.
"Our priority for these individuals is not necessarily criminal action and we will try to signpost them to support services so they can get the help they need.
"However, ultimately we are committed to tackling anti-social behaviour and this injunction was necessary to protect the public and our local businesses.
"I would like to thank the City Centre Neighbourhood Team and all city centre partners including Sunderland BID, Bridges shopping Centre and Sunderland City Council for their ongoing partnership work to ensure the city remains a safe place."