Police failing to tackle ‘aggressive’ begging in Stoke Newington

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Stoke Newington shop workers have criticised police for failing to tackle “aggressive” begging.

Staff at the Whole Foods store in Church Street told the Hackney Post on Tuesday that police are too slow to respond to complaints.

Homeless people are shoplifting and begging both outside and inside the store, they claim.

Max Sammarco, department manager of Whole Foods, said: “If we see [homeless people] being aggressive or shoplifting we call the police, but sometimes it takes them ages [to come]. So you think ‘what’s the point in calling them?’”

The problem has become so severe that managers were forced to close off a second entrance to the shop.

Local police have begun to tackle the problem using new dispersal orders introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, which was brought in on 20 October.

Twenty homeless people were banned from the area on November 19.

Sgt Dan Window said: “Our team recently instigated an operation to combat anti-social behaviour following multiple complaints concerning vagrants urinating, defecating, vomiting, fighting and begging.

“Officers were able to use new legislation to disperse over 20 vagrants. Alcohol was confiscated from all and they were banned from the area for 48 hours.

“During the operation one person was arrested for breaching the dispersal order and another EU national was arrested by UK Border Agency for breaching his treaty rights.”

Madelaine Heinemann, a local resident, said: “I have only encountered one person who can be aggressive in the area; if I see them I just avoid them.

“Begging at cash machines or outside Whole Foods market is emotionally charged. I tend to avoid encouraging this by not giving at these places.”