If there is a problem in Wilton Road, Abbey Wood, I am not convinced the biggest one is begging; from what I hear noisy brothel customers in the middle of the night is more of a nuisance.
Begging undoubtedly goes on. Earlier this year a red headed woman asked me for 50 pence. It has only happened once and she made no fuss when I walked on by.
A week ago I was approached by two more women in Wilton Road but they were not beggars. They said they were from Bexley Council and were trying to find the begging lady, could I describe her, did I know where she was?
They were concerned for her welfare and left me with their business card.
The card indicated they worked for a private care company and not Bexley Council but there is no reason to doubt their claim. If it was true, Bexley Council is right to be concerned for the beggar’s welfare. Several traders have said that she will prostitute herself for a few pence and Facebook posters have said the same in more graphic terms. She has been banned from entering some shops and clearly needs help.
There is at least one other beggar on Wilton Road. A couple of days ago a man asked me for money outside McColl’s where I bought a copy of The Daily Telegraph and just a couple of minutes later he asked the same question as I picked up a copy of the Metro at the station.
A nuisance but over three or four months not exactly a big deal.
The police however must think it is. The two ladies who claimed to be working for Bexley Council were concerned for the beggars’ safety but the police appear to have abandoned the softly softly approach.
A trader told me that the police located and warned the beggars last Friday and yesterday the police Tweeted that they had issued a Community Protection Notice.
Most visitors to Wilton Road will be pleased to see the back of the beggars but I am inclined to think that Bexley Council had the right idea when they sent the two ladies to look for the vulnerable redhead. But as I have learned, police will always take the easy option.
The Tweet refers to Greenwich Council but not Bexley. Maybe they are not united in their approach.