People giving money to beggars in Newcastle are being warned their kindness could actually do more harm than good.
Northumbria Police and Newcastle City Council say often the money given to beggars is spent on alcohol and drugs.
They are raising awareness through a campaign called “Your Kindness Could Kill”.
It is hoped this will encourage people begging to seek the help they need rather than using money to continue their addiction.
Darren Sweeney, Neighbourhood Inspector for the city centre, said: "Money given to people begging in Newcastle city centre is more than likely to be spent on drugs and alcohol.
"Most people who beg need help with a drug or alcohol addiction and some need help with housing.
Organisations in Newcastle, such as the Cyrenians, can help put them in touch with the correct support and ensure they get the right help.
"I'd encourage people who want to help or want to make good use of their loose change to please make a contribution to one of the many local charities in the city who provide vital help and support to the homeless.
"By ensuring those found begging are directed to the correct support it's hoped we can reducing the amount of begging taking place on the city's streets."
Councillor Michael Burke, portfolio holder for housing at Newcastle City Council, said: "The Council is backing Northumbria Police in their campaign to help people get the services they need.
"Newcastle City Council supports a range of agencies that provide supported accommodation beds for people who are at risk of homelessness and we also work with the NHS to provide services for people with drug and alcohol addictions.
"We understand how difficult it is for people with an addiction to change their life which is why we support initiatives like this that bring together agencies to help focus support where it is most needed. "
If you know someone who is begging or homeless please call the Cyrenians outreach team on the 24-hour freephone number, 08000 461 445, so they can attend at the earliest opportunity to offer them the correct support.
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