OFFICERS are targeting “bogus beggars” in several high streets across Sussex.

Sussex Police say they have encountered “beggars” who “refused assistance and are believed to be part of an organised crime group seeking to obtain cash by deception”.

Sergeant Kara Tombling said: “All those encountered so far have been of Romanian origin.

“It would seem they do not live locally but are dropped off and picked up, using hand-written notices asking for money.

“We have established there are no concerns around modern slavery and that previously they may have been operating in towns in Mid Sussex.

“Officers have used translators to ensure suspects are fully aware of help available in genuine cases while issuing Community Protection Warnings (CPW) to those who don’t meet that criteria.”

Officers found three incidents of the “beggars” in Uckfield High Street and one in Hailsham High Street.

The CPWs require recipients not to approach people and ask them for money, food or other donations in Sussex.

They must not sit or loiter at the entrance or exit of any commercial or business premises, hold out their hands to beg, or return to Wealden district with the intention of begging.

Sussex Police say failure to comply means an offender risks a fixed penalty of £100 or else being arrested.

But a spokesman said that “genuine problems linked to homelessness are dealt with respectfully and sympathetically, with those concerned being ‘signposted’ to agencies able to offer help, shelter and support”.