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Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Giving boxes 'to replace' begging
Beggar in street
There are an estimated 25 beggars a day on Aberdeen's streets
Collection or "giving" boxes have been installed in Aberdeen city centre in a move designed to reduce the number of beggars on the city's streets.

Aberdonians are being encouraged to donate money to the homeless through the boxes instead of handing over cash directly to those who beg.

The funds will then be divided among charities and agencies who help the city's homeless.

Charity Shelter Scotland said giving money to beggars was a personal choice.

The project, by Aberdeen City Council, is believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland.

The move comes after a bid by the local authority for a by-law to outlaw begging was rejected by the Scottish Executive last year.

At the time, ministers said current legislation adequately dealt with the problem. Currently an estimated 25 beggars a day can be found on the city's streets.

We have never been sure that if the intention of these boxes is to stop people begging, that it will have the desired effect
Archie Stoddart
Shelter Scotland

Councillor Martin Greig, of the Aberdeen Community Safety Partnership, said he hoped the measure would lead to a drop in the number of beggars.

He said: "Even when there is no aggressive behaviour, begging can be intimidating and threatening to members of the public.

"It can add to the fear of crime and make people less confident in walking about the city.

"We are delighted to be launching this scheme which is part of a wide ranging strategy aimed at reducing street begging."

Despite the popularity of the project among those in the local authority, leading homeless campaigners have questioned its motives.

Recordable offence

Archie Stoddart, director of Shelter Scotland, said: "We don't agree with dictating to people what they should do with their money.

"We have never been sure that if the intention of these boxes is to stop people begging, that it will have the desired effect.

"It should be a matter of choice whether an individual wants to give money to someone who is begging on the streets. Often people beg because they feel they have no choice."

The boxes, which cost about 180 each, are being installed at a variety of locations in Aberdeen.

While begging is not illegal in Scotland, it became a recordable offence in England on 1 December 2003 as part of measures to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Collection box schemes already operate in Manchester and Cambridge.


SEE ALSO
City set for beggar collections
24 Oct 06 |  North East/N Isles
Collection boxes plan for beggars
01 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Abusive city beggar is given Asbo
23 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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