More and more people are starting to use public transport again as the lockdown starts to ease.
While the advice remains to only go on public transport if you have no alternative, it is inevitable that people will slowly start to return to using it again as more people return to work.
As this happens you may start to see a fairly familiar sight on board the trains, especially when it’s quieter.
It’s tissue begging – when a person places a pack of tissues and a little note, usually asking for money for the tissues.
If you’ve never seen it before you might be a bit confused by this.
When someone is asking for money on public transport it can be a difficult situation to deal with. Maybe you don’t have any change or food to give someone but worry you look unkind. Maybe you really want to help a vulnerable person but don’t know the best way to do it.
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So what do you do if you want to help a beggar or seller on London’s transport?
The term ’tissue seller’ refers to people selling small value items, like a packet of tissues, often accompanied by a note.
But both this kind of selling and begging is actually illegal on railways.
The British Transport Police says: “Both plying a trade and begging on board a train or at a station are both offences under the Railway Byelaws (7.2).”
“Some people who sell tissues or beg on the railways are vulnerable, and officers will assist them to access services to get the support they need.
“However, we will take action against persistent offenders who break the law or intimidate passengers.
“Our priority is to ensure every passenger can travel in safety and without being disturbed.”
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What you can do
The British Transport Police ask London transport passengers to not encourage tissue selling if you see it while travelling.
Instead you can help the person or group of people by texting BTP on 61016.
Include the following details in your text:
- The service you’re travelling on
- The carriage you’re travelling in
- How many people are involved
- A description of the person or people
- Any other information that may be necessary or helpful
You will then receive a text back with any further information required and updates on the situation.
If you’d prefer an alternative, you can report this to 0800 40 50 40.
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