Shelter Scotland Street begging Research (Edinburgh) 2019

By: Shelter Scotland
Published: March 2019

Shelter Scotland Street Begging Research 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.

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.