A PETITION has been started to demand Govia Thameslink Railway remove a notice which asks commuters not to give money to beggars.

The online campaign was launched by a researcher in philosophy at the University of Sussex, Johnbosco Nwogbo.

The 29-year-old, from Brighton, has slammed the sign as offensive and a “blot on the city”.

The petition was started earlier this week on 38 Degrees, and it has collected more than 380 signatures so far.

Mr Nwogbo said Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, is writing a letter to Govia asking it to remove the sign.

He said: “We have received amazing support from people all over Brighton for this campaign. We recognise that the police have genuine security concerns, which Govia claim to be interested in helping with.

“All we want is for Govia to show community spirit.

“It deeply offended me that in austerity-ravaged Britain, where more and more families are forced to resort to foodbanks, and where people are increasingly going into debt just to provide their kids with the basics, that any individual or company could be so heartless as to advise against Brightonians helping each other.”

Mr Nwogbo added he is reaching out to Brighton and Hove City Council for its support.

Govia argues it has put in the sign to tackle antisocial drug use and reduce begging.

He said: “This notice is a blot on our city. It reflects badly on us.

“When people visiting us from all over Britain and the world arrive at the station, that is one of the first things they see.

“I created a Facebook group for those willing to join a picket or hand out leaflets at the station informing commuters how the sign can damage our city’s image. It already has more than 50 people on it.”

Tony Holland, crime and security manager for Govia, said: "This guidance for passengers is in place to keep our passengers safe and is supported by charities across the city, demonstrated by the letter to The Argus earlier this week from Brighton Housing Trust CEO, Andy Winter.

"We work closely with the police to reduce begging because it is often associated with drug use and organised crime. Our teams across the network support the police's efforts for the benefit of our passengers."

See leading campaigner for homelessness Andy Winter's comment why Govia is right to put up the sign