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Public Policy and Administration


Michael Knight


Panhandling (also called begging and mendicancy) has been a problem for lawmakers. Although current crime control measures (based on the broken windows theory) have identified a perceived link between disorders (i.e., panhandling) and crime, previous attempts to ban panhandling were deemed unconstitutional. The purpose of this work was to investigate the impact of the latest attempt to curb panhandling in Hampton Roads, Virginia, known as the Public Education Campaign. This phenomenological inquiry examined the perceptions and work-related experiences of service delivery agents to explore the impact of the panhandling policy on panhandling and policy enforcement. Purposive sampling was used to recruit, interview, and record 7 service delivery agents (social workers and law enforcement officers). After the interviews were transcribed, member-checking and triangulation were used to contribute to the trustworthiness of this project. Results indicated ineffective communication and duplication of services were issues. Therefore, positive social change may result from an improved screening process for the Department of Social Services personnel. Furthermore, educating the public concerning the legality of panhandling may eliminate the duplication of services for the Housing Crisis Hotline personnel.

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