Police are working with the council to crackdown on aggressive begging in Kettering.
Fixed penalty notices are just one of the measures being used to tackle the problem which has been blighting the town centre in recent months.
Inspector Julie Mead, community inspector for Kettering and Corby, said: “Kettering has problems around begging and people sleeping rough on the streets.
“There are a number of people who are aggressively begging and a lot of them are homeless.”
There have been complaints from members of the public as well as businesses.
And while Insp Mead said Kettering people have ‘good hearts’ for giving money to those begging, it doesn’t help as some will continue begging if it generates more cash than finding a job.
The inspector said: “Both the police and the council can issue penalty notices to people caught begging aggressively, and there has been a lot of work done around that.
“And plans are in place to continue dealing with it.”
Officers have been looking at best practice nationally to tackle the issue and will be giving a presentation to the council next month about the work completed so far.
Insp Mead said: “We want to support people who are genuinely homeless and the partners are really keen to help them and get them back on their feet.
“But a lot of people are choosing not to take that support.”
A spokesman for Kettering Council said: “Aggressive begging is against the Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which came into force last September.
“Before then, there was no legal protection for people against this form of anti-social behaviour.
“In the last nine months, the town centre has however, seen an increase in begging, passive and aggressive, usually carried out by people representing themselves as homeless, who also indulge in on-street drinking and commit other forms of anti-social behaviour.
“There have been a number of people regularly causing a nuisance of themselves in the town centre, and the council has also had to distinguish between the small number of genuinely homeless people, who it has helped into employment and/or accommodation, a couple of people with mental health needs, whom it has worked with the police and NHS to support, and the wider number of people causing a nuisance.
“The council has issued fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to 27 people for contravention of the PSPO.
“10 individuals have been taken to court for not paying their FPN, and nine people have been fined an average of £750 each, and issued with a criminal behaviour order (CBO).
“Failure to comply with the terms of a CBO makes the person liable to arrest, and imprisonment.
“One person has subsequently been convicted of a breach of a CBO, and has until next week to pay the fine, or they will be imprisoned.
“Nine more individuals will be prosecuted within the coming weeks and we will also be applying for CBOs for those individuals.
“Most of this enforcement relates to begging and street drinking.”
Other measures are also being taken.
The council has issued a closure order against a property in New Buildings, near the town centre, which was a magnet for some of the individuals concerned, and three other closure orders for drugs-related activity in houses in the town.
Police have issued closure orders on two other properties.
And the spokesman added: “The police and the council’s warden team are conducting joint patrols, and are aware of hotspots and are fully aware of the identity of the individuals causing a nuisance, whom we will continue to deal with, until they stop harassing the public.”