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Homeless people and beggars targeted in tough crackdown by Met

The Met is cracking down on homeless people and beggars (PA)

The Met is cracking down on homeless people and beggars (PA)

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Homeless people and beggars in six London boroughs will be targeted by police today in a “robust” operation focussed on “disrupting and deterring rough sleeping.”

Officers, council wardens and immigration officers will be patrolling City of Westminster, Camden, Croydon, Islington, Lambeth and Southwark.

“Begging will not be tolerated in the City of Westminster or any other London borough. Wherever possible people begging will be arrested and ASBOs sought where appropriate,” said Met Police Service Commander Alison Newcomb, who is leading Operation Encompass.

Westminster City Council cabinet member for community protection, Cllr Nickie Aiken, insisted that the council would go to “great lengths to support those in genuine need”.

But she added: “The UK Border Agency already has the power to send home any EU nationals not exercising their EU Treaty rights. But the fact remains that the current legislative powers available do not go far enough and still allow some people to play the system and exploit a three-month window. We need tighter regulations.”

New regulations introduced on 1 January this year mean that EU nationals can be removed from the UK for the abuse of free movement rights and for fraud.

It includes EU nationals who try to fraudulently gain residence rights in the UK, as well as those who take part in fake marriages or try to cheat the requirements.

Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “Operations such as these demonstrate that abuse of free movement will not be tolerated, and we will take action to remove perpetrators from the UK. We work regularly with police, local authorities and other agencies to identify and deal with EU nationals who are not abiding by the rules.”

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