Don’t be duped by Exmouth ‘beggars’ say police


- Credit: Archant

Police have received complaints about aggressive begging in Exmouth, where scores of shoppers have felt pressured into handing over cash to strangers.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the public were often left ‘frightened’ and forced into giving money to the culprits.

Angry residents turned to social media this week to voice concerns and anger over bogus health claims made by the beggars.

Some said scroungers had been active in the town centre for more than a month, duping shoppers out of cash for bus fairs, claiming to be epileptic, and alone.

Inspector Antonia Weeks, at Exmouth Police Station, said: “Over the past few weeks we have received a number of complaints about a group of people in the town centre approaching others asking for money, often making out it is for a bus fare or other need.

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“This can be frightening for many people who feel pressured into handing over money.

Insp Weeks added: “Police work closely with other organisations such as the Open Door Centre to assist those in need. If you wish to help the homeless and to donate, then we would advise people not to hand over money to individuals who are essentially begging, but instead donate to the supporting projects to ensure the money is used appropriately.”

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A town centre pensioner, who did not want to be identified, said she had been approached twice and asked for cash.

An Exmouth resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, said she had been stopped and asked for money: “I felt very uncomfortable and felt that I had to make an excuse quickly to leave.”

A Brixington resident, aged 46, who did not want to be named, said she was twice stopped by the same person claiming to have been ‘dumped’, needing epilepsy drugs and asking for £6 bus fair.

Devon and Cornwall Police said a 31-year-old woman, of no fixed abode, was arrested and charged with begging in a public place. She is due to appear at Exeter Magistrates Court on January 24, 2017.

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