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Fake homeless woman begs on the streets despite living in council flat

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A woman has been accused of faking homelessness by begging on the streets despite living in a council-paid flat.

Emily, who receives benefits every two weeks, told BBC presenter Ellie Flynn that turning up to beg was like work and that it was either this or be a hooker.

I try and turn up every day. This is work to me, she said in her current hometown of Cambridge.

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She added: Its a job. It was either this or be a hooker. Thats the truth. There arent many options for a person like me.

Emily is one of many people to be interviewed by upcoming BBC Three documentary Fake Homeless: Whos Begging On The Streets?.

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The programme is attempting to investigate whether fake homelessness is an issue in the UK – or just a scare story to demonise those really at risk.

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Ellie also interviews a genuine homeless man named Damian, from Liverpool, who is currently living in a tent.

He tells the presenter that it pisses me off to see people begging in the city despite having a house or a flat to go home to each night.

Emily was interviewed as part of the documentary (Picture: BBC Three)

Merseyside Police said that, while it is not known how many fake homeless people there are in the area, around 8 per cent of people arrested for begging between 2015 and 2018 had accommodation.

They did not specify whether this accommodation was permanent or temporary, or what the individual situations of each person were.

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It is estimated that 4,751 people are sleeping rough on any one night in Britain.

In some areas, residents have taken it upon themselves to try and combat fake homelessness by speaking to anyone they come across begging on the street.

Homeless charity Humanity Torbay, in Torbay, Devon, have urged people to give their money to organisations rather than to the homeless directly.

'fake homeless' girl asks for money on the streets

Presenter Ellie Flynn is investigating whether fake homelessness exists (Picture: BBC Three)

One thing these people dont like is being photographed or filmed, so weve gone and done that, Chairwoman Ashley Sims said of fake beggars.

We have identified who is genuine with the relevant charities and their names and if they are homeless or not.

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Five of them have told us they wont go begging anymore if I dont put their photo up.

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Of the 17 photographed, only two were genuine street homeless.

But the BBC documentary also explores the radical extremes others have opted for – such as offering those on the streets money for drugs in a bid to make them move.

'fake homeless' girl asks for money on the streets

The documentary filmed people begging on the streets (Picture: BBC Three)

Businessman Ashley Sims stated that he was on a mission to expose rough sleepers in Devon as he wants to protect the business fraternity of the area.

F***ing hell, of course you let them take drugs, he said when confronted on the documentary.

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Thats what they do. Thats why they are in this situation they are in. Thats why they have blown every chance theyve ever had.

The 46-year-old was previously called vile for his campaign against fake homelessness, with Torbay Council telling him to stop his outing project.

A spokesperson said in a statement: We have very real concern as to the consequences of the Fake Homeless campaign which is currently being undertaken.

'fake homeless' girl asks for money on the streets

Police have previously called outing people as fake was a dangerous practice (Picture: BBC Three)

Torbay Council knows that an individuals circumstances can frequently change, sometimes on a daily basis, meaning that being able to make a judgment on whether someone is street homeless or not is in many cases a fact that will remain accurate for only a limited period of time.

We are already aware of an individual wrongly identified as fake homeless, who has then been the subject of abuse via social media.

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The actions being proposed by this campaign encourages vigilantism and enables anyone so-minded to target people, and is therefore unacceptable.

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Such behaviours cannot be supported or condoned on any level by Torbay Council.

Torbay police inspector Si Jenkinson said of the situation: The dangerous practice of outing people as professional criminals based on often unverifiable information fails to acknowledge the very complex vulnerabilities and chaotic lives of those concerned.

Fake Homeless: Whos Begging On The Streets? will be available on BBC Three from November 25.

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