A MAN who Droitwich Police believe is pretending to be homeless to get money donations is in fact a rough sleeper, according to a man who works in the town.

Droitwich Police Sergeant Sarah Kent claims David Woodcock, who was recently fined in court for begging, is “deceiving people into giving him money” – she told a council meeting last week.

Magistrates will decide on March 1 whether to impose a Criminal Behaviour Order banning Mr Woodcock, 35, from begging in the town, applied for by local police.

He had admitted begging and two charges of theft from shops, as well as breaching a Community Protection Notice when appearing in Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court in December.

Sgt Kent said she knows personally Mr Woodcock does have a home – but the idea that he is entirely deceiving the public has been challenged.

A man, who did not wish to be named, said he has seen him sleeping rough, often in the underpass near the police station.

“I have spoken to this chap many times along with some of my colleagues,” he said. “I don’t know what his housing situation is, but he was definitely sleeping rough in the town.”

He said he has bought coffee for him before and just after Christmas he “put a blanket over him” while Mr Woodcock was sleeping, when it was “below freezing” around 4am.

The man said he believes Mr Woodcock was living with his girlfriend but has since moved out and has apparently seen him eating “sandwiches out of the bins”.

“Somebody who has a home wouldn’t do that,” he said, adding that he reported the situation to charity StreetLink which informed him representatives had been out to see Mr Woodcock.

Sgt Kent told Droitwich town councillors on last Monday (January 28): “The beggar [Woodcock] who kept coming out into Droitwich was implying that he was homeless by carrying a sleeping bag with him.

“I know personally he’s not homeless and so therefore he was also deceiving people into giving him money which was not necessarily going to be used for the right things for him.”

Referring to the CBO, she later told the Worcester News: “The conditions we are applying for mostly relate to his begging activities in Droitwich and preventing this continuing.

The sergeant went on to say that while “begging is an offence”, many members of the public want to help those who “appear in need”.

“It’s important this is done in a way that will help that person in the longer term”.

She suggested taking money or other donations to the Droitwich Foodbank.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, she said, a few years ago homelessness “probably wasn’t much of an issue in Droitwich but it has increased slightly in the last few months and probably reflects the national picture around homelessness”.

You can send an alert to StreetLink if you see someone you are concerned about when they are rough sleeping.