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 a Section 47 Enquiry is required. Considerations should include the age of the child, the degree of adult supervision, time of day etc.
The exploitation of begging, including the use of a trafficked dependent person for begging may fall within the definition of human trafficking and when a child is concerned no possible consent should ever be considered valid.
It is the responsibility of the police to:
- Deal with the offence of begging;
- Consider whether there is evidence of human tracking;
- Establish the identity and address of any involved child;
- Refer the child to the Surrey Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) or EDT.
If there are immediate risks to the child, the referral must be made to the Surrey Children's Single Point of Access (C-SPA) or EDT - see Contacts and Referrals Procedure. Children involved in begging are likely to be exposed to emotional abuse and / or neglect to such a degree that it constitutes significant harm, if their parents are unable or unwilling to refocus their lifestyle around the child's needs.
- 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.