[ View the story "Exeter anti-begging campaign stirs controversy" on Storify] Exeter anti-begging campaign stirs controversy Critics call the message "offensive" and "shameful".
The Stream· Wed, Sep 11 2013 10:50:40
The dishonesty of the campaign message is shameful - not all those who are reduced to begging are drug users. And while those who are certainly need support this is not the way to go about highlighting the issue to the people of Exeter.change.org
@ExeterCCM @ExpressandEcho Appalled at how #begging campaign uses language that demonises beggars #exeter #scapegoating #socialjusticeHelen Drever
I think ECC need to take their hateful Exeter Against Begging page down before they do any more damage to ...
In response to the campaign, a parody of the poster was created:
A change.org petition and a Facebook
were launched in order to "persuade Exeter Community Safety Partnership to moderate the offensive tone of its 'Exeter Against Begging' campaign". The petition has received more than 100 signatures, and addresses the implications of the campaign's framing. A section of the petition reads:
The Exeter Against Begging campaign has caused significant offence by implying that all beggars are untrustworthy drug addicts undeserving of our respect or compassion.change.org
However, while many criticised the language and framing used, others argued that many beggars are not homeless, but instead are drug addicts.
@aw_bell @ExeterCouncil If you give to beggars chances are you are not helping a homeless person, you are contributing to the drug tradeSimonBowkett
@Mallorcasaint @Simon_Bowkett I got the message "When you give to someone begging, you're unlikely to be helping the homeless."Lon Won
The campaign responded to the criticism on its Facebook page:
Begging and homelessness are separate issues but are often seen as one and we would never suggest that at times they cannot be linked, just as we would not suggest that all people who beg are drug users. However, evidence has shown that the vast majority of people begging in Exeter spend their money on drugs - such as heroin, that can kill. (For more information, please contact Sgt Chris Leisk via 101) Over 70 per cent of people surveyed recently during our street needs audit were in accommodation and were not rough sleeping but were begging to feed an addiction. A recent Police Operation saw 14 people arrested for begging – all 14 were in accommodation and all admitted that they were begging to fund an addiction. We are therefore basing our approach on evidence obtained from our work on the streets of Exeter.facebook.com