An adult begging for money may be accompanied by a child (who may or may not be her/his own) 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, but rather the consequent risks that determine if a child protection response is required. Considerations should include age of the child, degree of adult supervision, time of day etc.
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.
It is the responsibility of the police to:
- Deal with the offence of begging;
- Establish the identity and address of any involved child;
- Refer her/him to the Children's Social Care for the area in which s/he lives.
If there are immediate risks to the child, the referral must be made to the Children's Social Care where they are found.
The normal procedures described in chapters on Referral and Assessment Procedure, Section 47 Enquiries Procedure and Child Protection Conferences Procedure apply and Child and Family Single Assessment should be commenced, alongside a multi-agency Strategy Discussion andSection 47 Enquiry if information available indicates that the begging:
- Presents immediate risks to the child's safety; or
- Indicates that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm.