Police respond to sightings of 'professional beggars' in Worthing town centre

A general shot of a homeless person
A general shot of a homeless person

Sussex Police have responded to sightings of 'professional beggars' in Worthing town centre.

An article on the Metro website claimed that a group of professional beggars was driving from town to town across the country, paying for a day's worth of parking and begging for money in the high street.

The story was shared in local Facebook groups, with several members claiming they had seen the same group in Worthing town centre.

The Herald asked Sussex Police if anyone had reported the issue to them.

In response, a police spokesman said: "We are not aware from reports to us that 'professional' beggars are a significant problem in Worthing, but if anyone has information on beggars or other anti-social behaviour we would ask them to let us know."

Under section three of the Vagrancy Act 1824, it remains illegal to beg on the street. According to the Parliament website, 'the maximum sentence is a fine at level 3 on the standard scale (currently £1000)'.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Crown Prosecution Service in July 2016 released figures showing the number of prosecutions under the Vagrancy Act 1824 in each of the last 10 years. The data shows the number of prosecutions under section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 increased from 1510 in 2006-07 to 2365 in 2015-16, the website said.

Worthing Borough Council was approached for comment.