(Photo: Kenneth Allen)
A story has appeared in a few of the tabloids over the past couple of days about a group of beggars in the Gloucester and Stroud area who are reportedly making up to £120 a day, or £43k a year.
The story ran in The Daily Mail (‘GANG OF BEGGARS ARE EARNING UP TO £43K A YEAR DESPITE NOT EVEN BEING HOMELESS’) and The Daily Express (‘FAKE BEGGARS COULD BE CONNING YOU OUT OF CASH: ‘VAGRANTS’ EARNING £120 A DAY’) on Thursday before being picked up by The Sun (‘SCANDAL OF ‘HOMELESS’ BEGGARS CONNING £43K TO LIVE IT UP ON BOOZE AND DRUGS’) on Friday.
All three reports cited police chiefs as saying a group of thirteen beggars were making these amounts of money. Yet the quotes from two police inspectors that appeared in the articles mentioned nothing about finances raised.
The inspectors said that a number of businesses and residents had made statements after being approached. They also spoke of concerns that money was being spent on drugs and alcohol and that many ‘don’t live on the streets but have some form of accommodation‘ before going on to add that police were working with local homeless charities to help people get necessary support.
But nothing in the statements of either Inspector Steve Wood or Inspector Andy Poole said anything about £43k a year, or indeed any amounts of money, being raised. So where were these figures obtained from, or have they just been spun out of thin air?
Interestingly, all three articles featured interviews with locals outraged that street beggars were making these large sums of money that exceeded their own salaries. So they must have been given the figures by the reporter(s) during the interview. Were members of the public being provoked with bogus statistics?
If papers want to run stories about the police dealing with issues of begging and homelessness, fair enough. But are the tabloids playing hard and fast with the truth once again, misleading the public with a sensationalised version of events?
I have contacted Gloucestershire Police for a statement of clarification and will post an update when I get a reply.
Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.