A CRACKDOWN on beggars is reaping rewards after two prolific criminals were banned from the town centre.

Insp Andy Sidebotham, from Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, increased policing in the town centre last year — particularly around Newport Street — to reduce the amount of crime and anti-social behaviour.

He made a plea to the public not to give beggars money and to alert police if asked for money.

Since his plea the area has seen a number of repeat offenders brought before the courts including beggars Paul Tong, aged 42, of Bromwich Street, The Haulgh, and Joseph Kaicalo, aged 51, of Rostherne Gardens, Deane, who have both been given anti-social behaviour orders banning them from entering certain areas of the town centre for two years.

If the men are caught returning to those areas, they will end up back in court and could face community service or prison.

Insp Sidebotham said: “Taking a robust stance against beggars in Bolton town centre, particularly around Newport Street, is starting to pay off as the message is getting across that begging is not welcome in the town.

“Giving money to beggars is not helpful as it can be used to fund alcohol or drug dependency. It is positive to hear people feel safer and less intimidated following our work.”

He said officers had worked with businesses encouraging them to display posters asking the public not to give money to beggars.

Insp Sidebotham added: “Many businesses have now put posters up requesting members of the public do not give them money but instead give money to charities that support them to move away from begging.

“Some beggars have taken up this support, others have left Bolton. The rest we have prosecuted. I have had all of my PCSOs trained in relation to summoning beggars as opposed to simply moving them on.”

Five men have been summoned to court — some of them for being caught begging up to six times. The clear-up comes as Bolton Council prepares to transform Newport Street as part of a £1 million revamp to turn it into a “European-style boulevard”.