Locals are furious demanding action to tackle ‘aggressive’ beggars along the Stratford Road, A34. One plain clothes officer was approached five times by one beggar.
Residents claim dishonest beggars have taken over the busy main road at the junction of Walford Road in Sparkbrook, “intimidating” pedestrians, drivers and increasing anti social behaviour.
While there was great sympathy conveyed for the genuinely vulnerable, locals begged police and the council to start clamping down on organised beggars who they claim are ‘working in shifts’.
Mohammed Ashraf, from the Fallows Road Residents Association, said while he understood there were those who had truly fallen on hard times, people felt “intimidated” when approached by beggars.
“That’s something that needs to be tackled”, he said.
One woman said: “I do have sympathy for these people, you assume they are homeless, destitute and suffering however over the last month or two, I’ve noticed there’s a pattern, they’re coming in, going, they take different positions and they go home in a gang.
“It’s arranged in a systematic way of making money.”
Another man said such beggars were taking advantage of the generosity of the community who “want to help” those in need.
“We need to eradicate these problems. Ok, if one or two are homeless, we will find a way to help them but this is not the way.”
Sparkbrook resident Mary Mockbell, said: “I feel very, very intimidated by people running up to my car banging on the window, it’s intimidating to me, especially as a lady driver.”
Zhor Malik, councillor for Balsall Heath, said: “They are operating in shifts, we get X amount coming in the day and in the evening another one comes. It’s aggressive begging.
It was agreed the situation was complex, needed a multi-agency approach and could not be solved by merely arresting people.
Chris Hamilton, from the Community safety Partnership, said: “Everyone had a different need. Not every beggar will have the same support, the same action plan against them.
“We have to look at the most effective way to deal with them.
“What we have to do is look at what’s putting them there in the first place. We have got to look at all the different agencies involved in trying to create a better community for everyone.”
PC Matt Bowditch said he was not aware of beggars working in shifts but possible solutions included the use of Public Space Protection Orders and civil injunctions.
PC Bowditch said: “Stratford Road is one of the busiest roads in the city due to the numerous vehicles that pass through that junction. We need to educate the public that we are not giving them money.”
He also advocated setting up Streetwatch patrols and educating the public not to give money in the first place.