A YOUNG beggar who has struggled with drug addiction looks set to be handed a lifeline after a sympathetic prosecutor tried to use the law to ensure she gets help.

Sophie Spalding, 22, was consistently warned by the police officers and PCSOs after she was regularly caught asking members of the public for money.

In July and August she was caught begging several times in Colchester town centre.

This was in breach of a community protection notice issued by the police which banned her from this behaviour.

Spalding, who lives in a supported housing scheme for young homeless people, was charged with two counts of breaching the notice and appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court.

But crown prosecutor Ian Elkins looked to help her.

As part of a Criminal Behaviour Order, which could see Spalding sent to prison if breached, he looked to impose a condition which would ensure the young woman gets further help.

He said: “Back in 2014 when Parliament abolished ASBOs, one of the features of the new legislation was the Government wanted to put in place orders which not only contain conditions preventing anti-social behaviour, but which would also provide support for the defendant.

“If I was a betting man I would say this court has never seen an order containing a positive measure to help the defendant.

“Her lack of previous convictions and the nature of the offences are such that the offences would not cross the threshold for a community penalty.

“The question then becomes what can the court do to ensure Sophie Spalding does not commit further offences of begging.”

Mr Elkins sought a Criminal Behaviour Order with three conditions.

The first two would ban Spalding from begging in Colchester town centre, while the third would order her to engage with Phoenix Futures, a charity which offers support for people with drug problems.

Mr Elkins added: “All I am trying to do is take a fresh look at these orders and see if they can be used with the carrot as well as the stick.”

A letter from Open Road described how she had been working with the charity since 2016 and a recent drug test had given a negative result.

Magistrates agreed to impose the first two conditions of the order until a further hearing on November 12, when the court will rule on the third condition.

Spalding was also slapped with £52 of fines which her father agreed to pay.