PG4. Begging

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Specific definitions of key concepts used by safeguarding practitioners are available through the Glossary.

Caption: Begging table


An adult begging for money may seek to invoke public sympathy by having their own or someone else's child with them. A child may also beg alone or with adult support or coercion.


The presence of a child on the streets or on public transport raises concerns for their welfare and development (e.g. the child should be at safe at home, in an early years setting or school, or participating in out of school activities).


Begging is an offence, and the Metropolitan or Transport Police are responsible for:

  • Dealing with the offence of begging;
  • Establishing the identity and address of any involved child;
  • Referring the child to the local authority children's social care for the area in which they live.


If there is an immediate likelihood of the child suffering significant harm, professionals in all agencies and the public should make a referral to the local authority children's social care where the child is found in line with Referral and Assessment Procedure.


Children involved in begging are likely to be exposed to emotional abuse and / or neglect to such a degree that it constitutes significant harm, if their parents are unable or unwilling to refocus their lifestyle around the child's needs. See Recognising Abuse and Neglect Procedure.

Significant harm is defined in Responding to Concerns of Abuse and Neglect Procedure, Concept of significant harm as a situation where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, a degree of physical, sexual and / or emotional harm (through abuse or neglect), which is so harmful that there needs to be compulsory intervention by child protection agencies into the life of the child and their family.


Local authority children's social care should respond in line with Referral and Assessment Procedure; co-ordinating a multi-agency strategy meeting / discussion and initiating a s47 investigation if information available indicates that the begging:

  • Presents immediate likehood of the child suffering significant harm; or
  • Is an ongoing activity and presents as a continuing likehood of the child suffering significant harm.


If this threshold is not met, an assessment should be undertaken and advice offered to the parent about the inappropriate use of children for begging and the risks involved.


Activities such as 'penny for the guy', 'trick or treat' or carol singing are not usually regarded as begging, if the arrangement is age appropriate and effectively supervised.