Hi, this is Karen, 1st of April 2023. Just been reading an article that was published in the Express about how the Prime Minister is to launch a crackdown on inverted commas, “nuisance beggars” causing inverted commas, “public distress.” It’s saying that the police and local authorities will get added powers to target these people deemed to be causing public distress.
I find this quite disturbing really, because, it’s not… It’s easy to for the police or local authorities to see if someone’s broken or breaking the law. But how do you define what is “nuisance” and what is causing the public “distress?” You know, I’m sure this is all down to interpretation.
So, I’m finding I think this will be quite disastrous and very, very difficult, if not impossible to police. You know, one person’s idea of what is nuisance behaviour is completely different to another person’s. And I’m talking about the police here because the police are individuals, and all perceive things differently. And also, you know… public distress. Again, distress is the way that you perceive it. You know, my distress is totally different to someone else’s distress.
And it also says as well that they can support these nuisance beggars to either get the accommodation that is needed to move them on, to find accommodation probably for the night they mean, or mental health and substance abuse services. Most homeless people that I know that are begging on the streets prefer to be on the streets because the hostels that are on offer to them are in such dire condition. They find themselves in more danger being in a hostel because most people that are staying at the hostel are either drinking or on drugs. You can’t smoke in a hostel. There’s a lot of chaos and a lot of anger. That’s what I’m told from the people that that stay on the streets, prefer to stay on the streets.
As far as directing them for mental health and substance abuse services. I don’t even know. I don’t know where they are thinking. As a recovering alcoholic, I know it’s hard enough to get help when you want to get sober, recovery and everything else. And it’s only in the daytime you can get help with these services, and these services are overrun. There’s a waiting list as long as your arm and usually you have to be referred to [them] by your GP. So it’s not as if the police or council members can walk past someone that’s begging and say, “excuse me, but if you go to blah blah, blah, you’ll get some help.” And we all know what the waiting list is to, you know, to be seen about your mental health. You know, it’s a six-month waiting list. So I was quite horrified when I read this.
I’m very cynical because, again, it looks good on paper and anyone that doesn’t really know about the life of homeless people with mental health, people with addiction. They were probably read this out, and think “at least he’s doing something, you know, this is what’s needed.” And I, with lived experience reading this article am thinking what a load of rubbish, what an absolute farce. And so, yeah, I just like to share that. Thank you.