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TfL has stopped playing controversial anti-begging announcements on its trains, following recent media scrutiny, and an online petition.
Until recently, TfL stations and trains played a recorded announcement, alerting passengers to the presence of people begging on the network, and discouraging from giving them money.
Deemed unnecessarily heartless by some, the announcement became the subject of an online petition, demanding that TfL cease using it.
Although TfL has not told Londonist exactly why it decided to stop running the announcements, it has confirmed that a new — more charitable — announcement will now be made in its place:
TfL and the Mayor of London are committed to helping rough sleepers get off the street. You can help too, by donating to charity projects and referring rough sleepers to support services via StreetLink. Search 'Help London's Homeless' to find out more.
All donations to the London Homeless Charities Group will be shared amongst 22 homelessness and rough sleeping charities across London to offer one single donation point for Londoners.
Says Siwan Hayward, TfL's Director of Compliance and Policing:
We are encouraging people to donate to charity. By donating to the London Charities Homeless Group, people can directly help fund homeless services and help vulnerable people off the street, rather than helping them to continue sleeping rough.
No one should be faced with sleeping rough on our streets or on public transport, which is why we have a dedicated outreach team who work every night to help homeless people who use night buses and tubes as a place to sleep. The team are part of the Mayor's efforts to help connect rough sleepers with services in the capital and they have helped many vulnerable people find accommodation, access to support services and reconnected them with family and friends.
However, begging announcements will not disappear from TfL's stations altogether. Following advice from the British Transport Police (BTP), announcements in some stations, and on some trains, will still warn of the presence of beggars or unlicensed buskers. The BTP also liaises directly with individual stations, and requests for announcements can be actioned at a local level. We ourselves heard an announcement declaring the presence of beggars and asking people 'not to encourage this behaviour' at Old Street station, just minutes after writing this very article.
Says TfL, "We are seeing an increasing presence of people begging across our network and we are encouraging our customers to donate to charity projects and refer rough sleepers to support services via StreetLink, rather than giving directly to beggars."
To donate to London's homeless and rough sleepers visit the Mayor of London's website. Members of the public can also help alert the outreach team to anyone needing their help by using the Streetlink service.