Homelessness: Labour will repeal law that criminalises rough sleeping

Sleeping in bins: Has this young woman been found yet? (See This Site’s previous report.)

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Housing Minister Melanie Onn have announced that the next Labour government will repeal the Vagrancy Act 1824 which criminalises begging and rough sleeping.

They say the priority should be to support, not criminalise, those who are sleeping rough or begging.

The Georgian-era legislation is unnecessary for dealing with genuine anti-social behaviour as a number of other civil measures exist, including civil injunctions and criminal behaviour orders.

The Vagrancy Act was used to bring a criminal charge nearly 3,000 times in 2016, with offences commanding a fine of up to £1,000 and leaving those convicted with a two-year criminal record.

Labour has committed to ending rough sleeping within five years of forming the next Labour Government, with a plan to reserve 8,000 homes for those with a history of rough sleeping.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey has already announced plans for a £100 million fund to make emergency cold weather accommodation available for every rough sleeper during winter.

Now Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said: “It should shame us all that rough sleeping has doubled in the last eight years and nearly 600 people died while homeless last year.

“Homeless people need help, not punishment.

“The next Labour government will make ending homelessness a priority. We want to build a society which doesn’t walk by on the other side when we see someone in need.”

And Melanie Onn added: “It beggars belief that we still use Georgian-era laws to criminalise some of the most vulnerable in society.

“Treating rough sleepers as criminals does not solve the underlying causes of homelessness and makes it harder for them to access support to move away from the streets.

“Rather than criminalising rough sleepers Labour would support them, with 8,000 new homes available to those with a history of rough sleeping as part of a plan to eradicate rough sleeping within five years.”

The announcement has won widespread support from the Twitter commentariat:

And Mr Corbyn expanded on his own opinion of homelessness during a visit to a Northampton project that helps homeless people:

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3 thoughts on “Homelessness: Labour will repeal law that criminalises rough sleeping

  1. Michael McNulty

    I’m in rented accommodation and at risk of homelessness when Universal Credit is rolled out nationwide. Over the past few years I bought enough camping, fishing and trapping supplies to survive in the wilds of East Anglia rather than go homeless in an urban setting. And I can take from root crops. It started off as prepping for possible economic collapse but has since become survivalism for a future looking more real.

  2. Pat Sheehan

    The ‘Force’ be with you Mr McNulty and all power to your ‘survival’ elbow. Where you lead we will ALL most probably be obliged to follow and trust our skills are honed just like our hunting knives and flat-pack, back-pack bivouacs are up to scratch. US troops leave Syria! Where in the world are they going? Home for Christmas? Surely not! As Mr Mad himself just said – “the calm before the storm”!

Comments are closed.