"Fake Homeless": Who's Begging on the Streets?

Engeland (UK) | BBC Three | vanaf 2018 | In productie

Is Britain being duped by “fake homeless”, chancers posing as destitute to boost takings? Or is this a scare story to demonise real homeless? Ellie Flynn investigates. The number of people sleeping rough in England is at a record-high – a 73% increase over the last three years. Government data shows that on any given night in autumn last year, nearly five thousand people were recorded sleeping on the streets, a figure that has more than doubled since 2010. But there are claims that the UK has a serious problem with “fake homeless” begging on the street. These are people who have homes, but still go out onto the streets to beg. They pose as if they are living on the streets so that they can collect money from strangers. News stories of scammers are frequent, and some police records show that 80% of people begging have “some kind of home” to go to. With beggars in our towns and cities sometimes behaving aggressively and anti-socially, the thought that people may be pretending to be homeless when they're not has enraged many communities. In Cambridgeshire, the police say there are towns where everyone begging is fake so they practice a “zero tolerance” attitude to encountering begging, sending them for sentencing at a magistrates. But it’s not just the police who are stamping out fake begging. In Devon, Ashley Sims is taking a stand by photographing, investigating and then shaming fake homeless beggars. He claims he has cut the number of homeless in Torbay from 23 to just 6 homeless people, as all the “fake homeless” have been driven out after being exposed. Ashley has been branded a “homeless vigilante” by the press. And in Liverpool one business owner claims every beggar outside his pubs and clubs is fake homeless. So are we in a country full of scammers? Homeless charities argue that the individuals people like Ashley is photographing and Cambridge police are taking action on may well have homes, but that they have complex and chaotic lives that may have led to them begging on the streets. They argue that people like Ashley are demonising the homeless population, who already face a lack of trust and abuse from the public. So what's the truth?

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