How the council is supporting businesses and people who beg in the city centre
A new guide will help city centre businesses to address begging, engage with people who are begging and share information about how enforcement is tackling anti-social behaviour in Sheffield.
Developed by the Community Safety Team, the Sheffield City Centre Business and Retail guide aims to empower businesses to take the best action when faced with anti-social behaviour or begging on their premises. It informs businesses of the support available to them and to people who are begging and explains how businesses can report anti-social behaviour to the police through a dedicated crime portal.
The guide is part of a series of interventions that aim to reduce anti- social behaviour in the city centre. It was launched at a special event for businesses in the Winter Garden with the Safer Sheffield Partnership. Business representatives met with council officers, South Yorkshire Police, charities including the Archer Project and Ben’s Centre, and Sheffield’s Business Improvement District.
The guide includes advice for businesses on what they can do if they are affected by anti-social behaviour, particularly begging. Advice includes:
- Show compassion: treat people on the streets as humans and speak to them without judgement
- Spread awareness: let people know about the Help Us Help campaign and the guidance it provides to businesses and the public
- Direct to services: the Help Us Help website has lots of information that can help people living on the streets, including where to find support services. Make sure you signpost them to helpful information.
- Report anti-social behaviour: businesses can report anti social behaviour and crime through a dedicated business portal.
One business that has benefited from the work of Community Safety Partnership is the Maida Vale bar on West Street. The late night venue had issues with begging which was having a negative impact on both customers and staff.
Gavin Richards, Managing Director of GJG Bars Group of Companies, said: “Prior to the help and guidance we received from Sheffield City Council, we always struggled with how to deal with anti-social behaviour near and around our premises. Sometimes intimidating, sometimes aggressive. My staff and management often felt uncomfortable and even at times, threatened, which often led to their responses and reactions being blunt, dismissive, unsympathetic.
“Through working with the council, we received guidance on how to deal with these situations of anti-social behaviour, drug abuse and particularly begging, whilst also giving us a greater insight into the wider problems and causes, we began to adopt new approaches and responses.
“We found that this not only helped the people causing anti-social behaviour, but also made our staff and management feel safer and more empowered at handling these difficult situations. We found that non-judgemental empathy was always preferable to unconcerned sympathy.”
With support from the council, Gavin and his staff gained confidence and felt empowered to help their customers better understand how to behave when faced with anti-social behaviour. The venue now displays posters from the Help Us Help campaign to advise customers on how to support people begging on the streets.
Councillor Richard Williams, Chair of the Communities, Park and Leisure Committee, said: “Our city centre is for all and to ensure everyone has an enjoyable visit, we are working with partners to give businesses and their staff the confidence they need to manage anti-social behaviour close to their premises.
“Through this holistic approach which empowers businesses, engages the public to help people begging, and works with South Yorkshire Police if enforcement action is necessary, we are making the city centre a more pleasant place to be and helping people get the support they need to stop begging.
“Sheffield has very low numbers of people who are living on the streets. Many people you see begging do have homes but because of challenges they face in their lives, they can find themselves spending a lot of time on the streets. Begging causes issues for businesses, the public and people trying to make a living, like Big Issue sellers.
“By signposting people to support services we are helping to reduce anti-social behaviour and get people the help they need. We are also helping the city centre become a more pleasant place for visitors, shoppers and workers. I recommend people familiarise themselves with the advice and guidance from the Help Us Help campaign so they know what to do if they see someone begging.”
Superintendent Benn Kemp, responsible for neighbourhood policing and partnerships in Sheffield at South Yorkshire Police added: “We welcome the launch of the Sheffield City Centre Business & Retail Guide, which forms the next step as part of our ongoing commitment alongside partners to address issues around anti-social behaviour in the city centre.
“Together with partners, we carry out a range of joint outreach work to offer individuals living or begging on the streets with the support they need to get them off the streets and address their often-complex needs. Where engagement and interventions are not successful, then we do look towards enforcement instead, and this has led to the development of multi-agency Harm Reduction Pathway, to help manage individuals who cause alarm and distress in the area.
“Our business community play an important part in reducing anti-social behaviour, and as well as following the advice in the new guide, we would continue to encourage those with concerns to raise these with our City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team, so we can identify hotspots and persistent issues and take the necessary steps to address these.”