A group of street drinkers are terrorising people in Chippenham into giving them cash so they can buy booze.
Police said a group of between eight to ten men, aged from 25 to 45, are hanging around Market Place and St Andrew’s Church-yard demanding money – and people are handing it over because they are too scared to say no.
There have been more than 15 complaints to police in the last two months. One person called 999 last Thursday at 4.50pm to say they had been stopped outside the One Stop by a bearded man aggressively swearing and asking for change.
It is believed many of the men involved are living at Unity House, the homeless hostel in Wood Lane.
Police have told The One Stop shop they must not sell alcohol to the men concerned. Officers are advising people not to give the street drinkers any money and if they want to help, donate cash to Doorway.
Sergeant Phil Connor said: “There have been lots of complaints, particularly from people saying they are being intimidated as they leave the One Stop, and reports of litter and needles in the churchyard.
“We have worked with the shop staff and they have agreed to stop serving street drinkers, and the church has agreed to put up signs in the churchyard saying no drinking.
“We will be actively patrolling the area to enforce that.
“We are asking members of the public not to engage in conversation with these men or give them money as we believe the money they are begging for is being used to buy alcohol.”
The churchyard is a designated public place, meaning if police ask anyone to hand over alcohol, they must comply or will be arrested.
Doorway runs a drop-in centre at the Salvation Army Hall on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons, for people who are homeless. It has an office in Station Hill and can also be reached on (01249) 445385.