FEARS that begging is on the rise across Andover, leaving people feeling “intimidated”, has seen an operation launched to tackle the issue.

Members of Andover Town Council have been hearing concerns from residents about begging and anti-social behaviour in recent months, with police this week telling the public not to hand over money.

Both town councillors and police have warned not all of those begging are doing so out of necessity.

At a meeting of the authority on June 21, councillors shared their views with Inspector Chris Taylor and PSCO Leigh Fubron.

Town mayor Councillor Barbara Long said: “I have heard from a number of young people who have gone through the alleyways who have felt intimidated to walk past because people are sitting there and they have got begging bowls out.

“If they are sat there begging then why aren’t they being moved on? That doesn’t seem to be happening in Andover.”

Cllr Long added that she has been told there are some who are begging in the town centre who are not homeless and have somewhere to go.

Police say that there will now be an operation carried out by officers in the town in a bid to alleviate the fears of people.

Insp Taylor said: “In response to concerns about begging in Andover town centre from the public and shop owners, Andover Neighbourhood Team will be completing a small scale operation over the summer.

“Begging is an offence under the Vagrancy Act of 1824. The aim of the operation will be to reduce anti-social behaviour and begging by educating and signposting subjects to support services.

“Some, but not all, people begging are vulnerable through homelessness, substance misuse and mental health issues.

“As a last resort we have the option of community orders and prosecution if people persist despite all our efforts.

“We would ask the public not to give money to people begging, but consider supporting relevant charities.”