|Order to punish anti-social behaviour
The area marked in red will be covered by the injunction order.
A major clamp down on begging and nuisance behaviour in Wigan town centre will be enforced from next month, thanks to newly granted powers.
Working together, Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police have been granted a Section 222 injunction order in the town centre. It is the first time the order has ever been granted in the North West, and will be enforced from Tuesday 1st April.
The order was applied for after incidents of begging and vagrancy rose by 500 per cent between September 2012 and September 2013 in the town centre.
It means there will be a zero tolerance approach to begging and anti-social behaviour. Begging and any nuisance behaviour will be banned in the town centre, and any individuals caught doing this will be punished.
Beggars will be prohibited from approaching people to ask them for money, cause nuisance behaviour which is intimidating and offensive, be drunk and disorderly, and the order also prevents them from being in groups of two or more which may contribute to people fearing for their safety.
If an individual is caught begging, their details will be recorded and served with the court order. If they continue to breach the order, they will be in contempt of court, which will result in a fine, imprisonment or both.
This is part of sustained efforts to help make Wigan town centre a safer place for the public, and to prevent shoppers and businesses from experiencing aggressive and disruptive behaviour from beggars.
Along with several partners, the council and GMP launched the "Killing with Kindness" campaign last year to help stop begging from happening in the town centre. The campaign was aimed at educating the public that they should not give money to beggars as the majority of them were using the money to fund alcohol and drug habits. Visitors to Wigan town centre were asked to use their money to provide the necessary support for beggars through funding charities and organisations that can help them.
Any individuals found begging will also be referred by partners to The Brick Project, which provides support for homeless and disadvantaged people in the borough and helps them recover and get their lives back on track.
Terry Dunn, director of environment at Wigan Council, said: “Wigan Council enforcement officers and Greater Manchester Police work closely to stop anti-social behaviour from happening in the borough and I am delighted they will have new powers in Wigan town centre to help them in their efforts to reduce this further.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that an idiotic minority are prepared to make the lives of shoppers miserable and affect local businesses through poor behaviour. I'm pleased there will be severe consequences for anyone who chooses to ignore the order."
Inspector Glenn Jones of the Wigan Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), said: “This injunction has been put in place in response to the aggressive begging which sometimes takes place, and which is often seen as intimidating to passers-by. These new powers will help us to deal with the problem swiftly, making Wigan town centre a safer and more appealing place for all.”
Details of the order will be placed in several locations in Wigan town centre. It expires on Saturday 21st February 2015. Anti-social behaviour taking place in the area can be reported to GMP by calling 101 or visiting www.wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Crime-Emergencies/Anti-social-behaviour.aspx.