TWO beggars who repeatedly harassed members of the public in and around Bradford city centre, have had full Anti-Social Behaviour Orders made against them.

Magistrates today granted applications by Bradford Council for ASBOs against persistent beggars John Johnson and Anthony Watson.

They could face imprisonment if they breach four prohibitions set out in the orders.

Richard Winter, prosecuting for the Council, applying for two-year ASBOs in both cases, said that between January and July this year there had been 28 acts of anti-social behaviour, and there had been nine other incidents between July and December last year.

Mr Winter said the acts took place in two areas - outside the former Odeon cinema, Alhambra Theatre, the Interchange and the university and college, and the area around Forster Square rail station and retail park and near the Midland Hotel.

The prosecutor said both defendants had been caught begging on numerous occasions. They had also been seen taking drugs on two or three occasions, as well as drinking on the street and loitering outside shops.

He said they had also been found sitting, sleeping, or laying in a public place, which was likely to cause alarm or distress to some people.

Mr Winter said the offences met Home Office guidelines about misuse of public space.

He told the Bench at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court: "You can imagine that these incidents of begging are going on in different locations in the city centre. For users of the city centre it doesn't seem appropriate it should be allowed to continue without the protection of the general public with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order.

Watson, 37, of Naples Street, Girlington, failed to attend court.

Johnson, 40, told the magistrates that he was not contesting the application. He had now found somewhere to live in Leeds.

Granting the ASBOs, chairman of the bench, Rebecca Todd, said: "We find you acted in an anti-social manner and that people need protection from further anti-social behaviour."

She said there would be four prohibitions as part of the order.

They will be prevented from acting, or inciting others to act, in an anti-social manner that could cause harassment, alarm or distress to members of the public. This would include threatening or abusive language or behaviour and begging in a public place.

They are also prevented from entering or remaining in the city centre and surrounding areas; having contact with each other; and obstructing vehicles or pedestrians by sitting, sleeping, or laying in a public place.

Miss Todd told Johnson: "Let us make it clear; if you do any of these things you are prohibited from doing, you could find yourself in custody."

After the case, Bradford Council Anti-Social Behaviour Officer, John Crosland, said: "Watson and Johnson have, during the last six months and before, caused harassment to persons in the Forster Square retail parks, outside the Alhambra Theatre, and City Park, by sitting on the pavement and persistently begging for money.

"The ASBOs have now put some rules in place which will help prevent them from causing further Anti-Social Behaviour and should protect members of the public from further harassment, alarm or distress whilst shopping, relaxing in City Park, or visiting the theatre."