A new pavement stencil campaign has reduced the number of beggars in Exeter city centre while encouraging charitable giving.
The initiative has been carried out by Exeter City Council in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police and Bournemouth Church Housing Association, with the backing of other charities and support agencies in the city.
Throughout the summer a series of messages directing people to Exeter City Council’s website were sprayed on key areas around the city. The campaign has been hailed as a success after a street audit revealed just five people begging for money on a busy Friday night and drop in begging during the day.
Cllr Rob Hannaford, lead councillor for housing and customer access, said: ‘We have had good feedback on the campaign from businesses, shoppers and visitors. Everyone has been really supportive and the figures show that it is making a difference.
‘We set out to try and change people's behaviour and inform those who may be inclined to give money to people begging that they don't need to do so - Exeter has enough support for those sleeping rough and it is better to give to the charities that support them instead.’
Inspector Tanya Youngs, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said that the stencils campaign had heightened the awareness of the issue of aggressive and intimidating begging in Exeter.
‘There has been an increase in the number of complaints from the public around this issue. This has allowed us to direct our resources and tackle the problem of aggressive and intimidating begging in the city. I am convinced that changing people’s understanding of these issues will help tackle the problem of begging in Exeter,’ inspector Youngs said.