Blackpool has used more powers than any other council over the last two years to crackdown on beggars. It has issued 228 community protection warnings – a tool used by enforcement officers to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Tim Coglan, head of public protection and enforcement at Blackpool Council, said action by the council meant 152 people who had been causing a nuisance in the town centre, were no longer doing so.
Twelve people are also currently being prosecuted through the courts.
Mr Coglan told a meeting of the council’s audit committee the figure for 228 community protection warnings issued in the last two years was the highest in the country.
But he added the council was not being ‘over zealous’ and all the individuals affected had been offered support first.
He said: “The most important part is the fact support packages are in place around this issue.
“There is nobody who ends up in court in this town that has not had a support package so the council is not being heavy handed.
“These individuals are reported individuals who have been aggressive and failed to take up packages offered to them.”
Mr Coglan said some people were deliberately homeless.
He said: “Individuals who are begging or homeless are nearly always intentionally homeless.
“They have had housing offered in the past, but some don’t want to be housed and have a street social life which escalates particularly through the summer months.”
He admitted work in the town centre had displaced some beggars to other areas including Coronation Street, Lytham Road and Waterloo Road but said resources were now being targetted at these neighbourhoods as well.
The council is funding two police officers from April 1 who will work in the town centre in addition to existing police patrols.
The initiative will be funded through proceeds of crime money, whereby criminal assets are seized.