Volunteers have been out in force this weekend warning clubbers to avoid giving money to street beggars in Leeds.
Around 13 volunteers from West Yorkshire Police patrolled the city’s streets warning people not to give their cash to street beggars.
The latest operation comes after the YEP revealed earlier this year that beggars in the city are earning up to £600 a day.
Police say that despite an increase in complaints about begging, there are only a handful of genuine rough sleepers.
Sgt Andrew Berriman, from Leeds City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The reason they are out there asking for money is they know people will give it to them.
“It is funding alcohol and drug abuse.
“If they couldn’t get any money then it would encourage them to engage and make a better life for themselves.
“They know they can make good money and some of them can make up to £60 an hour and have just come out early for the clubbers on Friday and Saturday nights.”
He told the YEP that the force has great links and partnerships with different agencies who can help to support the city’s homeless.
Recently police arrested a homeless beggar in Leeds who had travelled from Sheffield.
But they said that within 30 minutes of his arrest officers were able to secure him a bed at St George’s Crypt.
Sgt Berriman added: “There’s absolutely no reason why anyone needs to be homeless on the streets of Leeds.
“If people want to give to them then they should give to local homeless charities rather than individuals on the street.
“I don’t want people to think it’s about persecuting.
“We have gone out to get them to engage.”
Regular police patrols have been set up in hotspot areas and persistent beggars can be charged under the Vagrancy Act, which could see them get fined at court.
Police want to see repeat offenders referred to the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team – and they want to see Asbos include exclusion orders to ban professional beggars from the city.
A similar operation will be carried out in Fresher’s Week to educate the city’s latest influx of students about the issue.