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Nuisance beggar jailed over order breaches

Crime and safety

Thursday, 21 December 2023
Teesside Crown Court

A nuisance beggar is behind bars this week over flagrant offending in Middlesbrough.

Lee Vickers was jailed for more than three months after admitting anti-social behaviour offences and persistent begging at Teesside Crown Court.

The court heard how the 22-year-old, of no fixed abode, had intimidated shops, businesses and members of the public over a lengthy period.

Complaints against him escalated in September 2022 with customers reporting requests for money and business saying trade had been adversely affected.

Vickers demanded money from young children attending shops to buy sweets and on one occasion a business was forced to close so staff could walk elderly customers home over fear of harassment.

Middlesbrough Council’s Community Safety team has made extensive efforts to assist Vickers, including support from Social Services, the homelessness team and Changing Futures programme, but all offers of help were rejected.

Neighbourhood Safety Officers attempted to control his behaviour through warning notices and an Acceptable Behaviour Contract, with the latter breached on numerous occasions.

Vickers also became increasingly violent, including threats to attack police and Neighbourhood Wardens, as well as making racial and threatening comments to staff of local businesses. 

In June this year the Council successfully applied for a civil injunction against Vickers, banning him from begging, making threats of violence or using foul and abusive language.

Numerous breaches led to his arrest in November and again this month, and when he appeared in court this week he was jailed for a total of 100 days.

Councillor Janet Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Community Safety, said: “This sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable, and law-abiding members of the public and businesses should not be subjected to it.

“Our officers and our partners have bent over backwards to find the help and support this individual clearly needs, only for that to be thrown back in their faces.

“That leaves us with no opportunity but to pursue prosecution and imprisonment, and I hope he will now engage with the appropriate services and take positive steps to turn his life around.”