Fifteen people have been arrested for posing as beggars in Chester, despite having their own homes or accommodation.
A Cheshire police operation to crack down on the number of beggars in Chester city centre resulted in the arrests of 17 people - 10 of whom also tested positive for use of prohibited drugs.
Officers say they have noticed a significant increase in begging on the streets over the past few months and say it has a 'detrimental impact' on the city following a number of reports they have received from businesses, residents and visitors who have been affected by the behaviour of beggars.
As part of the operation, police targeted locations known to be frequented by beggars, and say they engaged with a 'large number of people'.
Beat manager PC Ben Jones said: "The majority were compliant and grateful of the advice and support we were able to provide, such as advice on how to access emergency accommodation, state benefits, and health care including drug and alcohol support services.
“Unfortunately a number of people failed, or refused, to engage with officers which resulted in 17 arrests."
He added: "Chester is a prosperous city and it's well known people living outside the area often travel to the city to beg. Of those arrested, 15 either had a flat, a house or resided in one of the local hostels. Of the 15 who had homes, three were from outside the Chester area. Ten tested positive for use of prohibited drugs."
PC Ed Flaherty added: “Throughout this operation our overall aim has been to pro-actively support people who are in genuine need.
“Chester is a beautiful city and we want to ensure that both residents and visitors to this historical city are able to go about their business without the fear of being confronted by beggars.
“I urge people not to give money to beggars as this money is often used to buy illegal street drugs. Instead, money should be given to local charities that provide accommodation and support to help people who are actually homeless, helping them to rebuild their lives.
“Following the success we have seen during this operation we will continue to work with our partners to support homeless people, ensuring that those who are in need are provided with the help and the support that they require," he added.