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Police offer advice on how to safely deal with panhandlers

If you are approached by someone, your safety comes first and it is up to you if you wish to provide assistance, say police
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The Guelph Police Service has recently seen an increase in the calls for service for people panhandling. Citizens usually call the police because they are concerned for the well-being of the panhandler and are hoping we can provide resources and referrals to our community partners for shelter and services. Occasionally citizens call police because a verbal or physical altercation occurred during their interaction with the person panhandling.

There are no laws that prohibit panhandling, however the Provincial Safe Streets Act was enacted in 1999 to provide guidelines to ensure the public as a whole is kept safe when being approached for assistance. The Act prohibits aggressive solicitation of a person at or near certain public places.

These places include:
    •    Automated Teller Machine
    •    Pay telephone
    •    Public washroom
    •    Taxi stand
    •    Public transit stop
    •    Public transit vehicle
    •    Parking lot

The Act also prohibits solicitation of a person:
    •    Getting in, out of, on or off a vehicle
    •    Who is in or on a stopped, standing or parked vehicle on a roadway

The Guelph Police Service would like to remind the public that if you are approached by an individual either on foot or on a bicycle that your safety comes first. It is up to you if you wish to provide assistance. If not, simply say so no and walk away.  If the individual becomes verbally aggressive or confrontational move to a safe area where others are present or back to your vehicle. You are encouraged to contact the Guelph Police Service and provide a detailed description of the individual. If the individual has left the area prior to police arrival, we will conduct a follow up investigation in an attempt to locate the person.