A homelessness charity has hit out at a decision to prosecute a man for sleeping rough in what is thought to be the first criminal prosecution of its kind in Doncaster.

Christopher Clinton Wilkinson – who was said to be sleeping in the woodland surrounding a hospital because it was the only place he felt safe – was hauled before Doncaster magistrates.

Representatives from Doncaster-based charity The M25 Housing and Support Group said using anti-social behaviour legislation to criminalise people sleeping rough was a ‘significant concern’.

Wilkinson, aged 40, was given an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to failing to comply with a Community Protection Notice on October 5 – but told the offence would stay on his record.

Specialist housing advisor Vince Bell of M25 said: “It is of significant concern that the police and local authority are using what can only be described as Dickensian measures to tackle rough sleeping in Doncaster.

“Using anti-social behaviour legislation to address issues such as rough sleeping is not going to help but will hinder their situation.

He added: “Considering the person in question suffered with mental health issues and was sleeping in the woods within the hospital grounds because it felt safe, then it would appear we have lost all sight of humanity and good sense.

“If you judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable then I believe we have failed in this instance.”

Source: Doncaster man prosecuted for sleeping rough – Doncaster Free Press

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