POLICE say they moved on persistent beggars who were causing problems at the Victorian Christmas Fayre in Worcester, not homeless people as claimed.

Police had been accused of moving on the rough sleepers to prevent them becoming an eyesore, but West Mercia Police were quick to refute the accusations.

A spokesman for the force said police moved on 'persistent beggars' after complaints from stall holders and the public.

The spokesman said: "Begging is an offence and so they are asked to move on politely and then can be arrested should they not oblige the advice."

She added: "Part of everyday practice is that officers on the streets will move rough sleepers on, regardless of the particular day.

"The local police teams speak with the homeless regularly and move them on and signpost them to places such as The Maggs Day Centre and St Pauls."

This followed a volunteer who helps the homeless claiming that police had moved rough sleepers on because of the fayre.

Les Emery, who usually delivers supplies to rough sleepers said that when he went on Saturday, the usual faces had been moved on and couldn’t be found.

Mr Emery said: “We took some food to St Paul’s and we were told that the rough sleepers weren’t in the usual place because the police had moved them.

“These people may not have anywhere to go and just moving them on demeans them and degrades them.

“These are people, not an ‘eyesore’ - we just want to know why they were moved and who was responsible.”

Worcester City Council said it could not comment on specific cases, but a spokesman said: “Where there are reports of rough sleepers, we will work with the Maggs Day Centre, CCP and other groups to find out if they have somewhere to go.”

Maggs Day Centre, which provides a hot meal, clean clothes, sleeping bags and bedding, used to host the charity Caring for Communities and People (CCP) but, due to high demand, CCP had to be moved to the Salvation Army in The Trinity, Worcester.

The move was made because the Salvation Army building has the capacity to care for 25 people whereas Maggs has a capacity of just 18.

Maggs was founded in 1984 after a homeless man died after sleeping on the city's streets.

In addition to the day centre, Maggs runs its clothing project from The Tything.

Earlier this month, the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol was put into effect.

This is a system in which the night shelter at Maggs is opened if the temperature is below freezing or if snow falls.

Anyone who sees someone sleeping rough is advised to point them in the direction of the Maggs Day Centre or Salvation Army.