An adult begging for money may have a child with them who may or may not be their own, and whose role is to invoke public sympathy. A child may also beg alone or appear to be so doing.
It is not the activity itself, rather the consequent risks which determine if an Assessment with aSection 47 Enquiry is required. Considerations should include the age of the child, the degree of adult supervision, time of day etc.
It is the responsibility of the police to:
- Deal with the offence of begging;
- Establish the identity and address of any involved child;
- Refer the child to Surrey Children's Services for the area in which (s)he lives.
If there are immediate risks to the child, the referral must be made to the Surrey Children's Services where the child is found - see Contacts and Referrals Procedure.
A Strategy Meeting and Section 47 Enquiry must occur if information available indicates that the begging:
- Presents immediate risks to the child's safety; or
- Persists and presents as a continuing risk of Significant Harm.
If this threshold is not met, an Assessment should be undertaken and advice offered to the parent/carer about the inappropriate use of children for begging and the risks involved.
Activities such as 'penny for the guy', 'trick or treat' or carol singing are not normally regarded as begging if arrangements are age appropriate and effectively supervised.
For further information about begging and its possible links to child trafficking, please see ECPAT - UK Briefing Paper on Child Trafficking - Begging and Organised Crime (published in September 2010)