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Operation Shopcote Wraps Up Begging Problem

Police in Coventry say the recent problem with beggars from eastern Europe pestering people in the city centre is now under control following a crackdown.

Operation Shopcote was launched following complaints from members of the public and traders in the city centre about women and children asking passers-by for cash.

Police and the city council joined forces to try and tackle the menace but since have received only a handful of calls.

No-one knows where the beggars have come from. It is feared that they are being forced into a life on the streets by organised gangs.

Sgt Doug Bacon said:

"We feel confident that the initial problem is under control.

"Various agencies who work directly with displaced people have worked hard to bring the message across to them that begging is not the way forward and have been successful in their efforts."

He called on irate people who are bothered by the beggars to be tolerant towards them.

Sgt Bacon said:

"Differences in the culture and background of these people are exacerbated because of the relatively small number who can speak English.

"We believe that tolerance and understanding is the way forward but any evidence of criminal behaviour will be thoroughly investigated and firmly acted upon."

Home Secretary Jack Straw warned at the weekend that any asylum seekers found guilty of a crime would face immediate deportation.

Sgt Bacon said it was only a small number of people who were causing problems, and one family of troublemakers had been moved out of the city.

He added:

"Recently officers patrolling the Hillfields area have received reports of women knocking on doors and begging.

"We would ask members of the public not to give money to these people, who if genuine, are well provided for.

"Please contact the police if you are harassed in any way."

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CWN / Crimes, Fires & Accidents / West Midlands Police / 20 Mar 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM