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Shelter Scotland Street begging Research (Edinburgh) 2019

By: Shelter Scotland  Published: March 2019


This new research into begging in Edinburgh commissioned by the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, examines a range of data sources provided by three of Edinburgh’s major homelessness service providers between November 2016 and October 2018.  This report was published in January 2019.

Summary

  •  This new research into begging in Edinburgh commissioned by the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, examines a range of data sources provided by three of Edinburgh’s major homelessness service providers between November 2016 and October 2018.  This report was published in January 2019.
  • The aim of this research was to improve understanding of this complex issue and we have defined begging as people who ask for money from members of the public in a unilateral exchange.
  • Considering the range of sources and the numbers included within the scope of this study, this is the most comprehensive review of begging in a UK city in recent years.
  • The research found that a minimum of 420 different people experienced begging on the streets of Edinburgh  between November 2016 and October 2018.
  • Demographic gender and age distributions among the population followed expected patterns with the majority of people being male (78.3%) and most being between 30-49 years of age.  Predominantly, the people begging in Edinburgh are UK nationals (89.0%) with a local connection to Edinburgh (73.0%).
  • The research shows that people are drawn to begging for a variety of experiential, economic and emotional reasons and often a combination of these factors.  The most common reasons were economic, as a response to poverty or to be able to afford specific items such as food and often to feed an addiction.
  • It is difficult to paint a definitive picture of how long people are involved in begging but the research shows that roughly half of those in this study are begging for under a year and half for over a year.
  • The research found a population defined by multiple and often complex needs. Several indicators throughout the research, particularly in the more detailed survey responses, show that many people had suffered from 'adverse childhood experiences'.
  • There was a very high incidence of mental health issues (80.6%) and physical health issues (62.4%) with only 10.5% not reporting either and 54.0% reporting both.
  • The report makes a series of strategic and operational recommendations for the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership.