Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary are calling on the public to help eliminate begging from the streets of Chester.
They say a significant proportion of those soliciting for cash in the city are neither needy nor homeless, but callous opportunists on the make.
Cllr Lynn Riley, executive member, localities, said: “Many members of the public respond to begging because they feel sorry for those responsible.
“Sadly, the truth can be that begging is seen by some, who do have a home and food on the table, as an easy way of making extra cash.”
People without an accommodation address are eligible for benefits and free emergency accommodation from the council’s homeless providers, Foundation Enterprise, North West (FENW).
Cllr Riley added: “Recent evidence from FENW demonstrates a significant decrease of rough sleepers. Our providers have a policy designed to ensure no second night on the streets and provides safe accommodation if people choose to access it.”
Labour Cllr Samantha Dixon (Chester City) claims cuts in the service are causing the problem.
She said: “When the council commissioned its new homelessness service last year, the funding for the wet room, a place where street people could go and drink alcohol off the streets, stopped.
“I predicted this would lead to an increase in the numbers of street people drinking and causing nuisance and I brought a motion to the full council asking for it to re-provide this service.
“I was ignored and since the beginning of the year, the number of vagrants, street drinkers and beggars in Chester has grown.
Recent research by the University of Glasgow found that begging was overwhelmingly driven by greed rather than need and confirms that beggars often use cash to support drug and alcohol problems.
City Centre Neighbourhood Inspector Darren Griffiths, said: “Money given to people begging in Chester city centre is more than likely to be spent on drugs and alcohol rather than food and accommodation.
Insp Griffiths added: “If you would like to donate we request you give to the local food bank and local charities. This will allow the public’s kindness and generosity in giving money to be managed properly.”
Members of the public concerned about aggressive approaches by beggars on the streets of Chester are advised to ring the Rough Sleepers hotline 0300 123 1562.