Homeless people face fines of up to £1,000 for sleeping rough in public doorways, under a new asbo-style rule introduced by a London Council.

Homelessness charities have reacted angrily to Hackney Council’s ‘Public Space Protection Order’, which they say “criminalises homelessness”.

The new order bans homeless people from sleeping in public areas and doorways and can be legally enforced through a £100 on the spot fine.

This fine could quickly escalate to as much as £1,000, due to additional court costs. It remains unclear on how the Council will expect destitute homeless people to pay up.

Matt Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the homelessness charity Crisis, said:

“While it’s right that the police have the power to tackle genuine criminals, covering a complex issue with a wide-ranging PSPO could lead to people in dire need of support facing a counterproductive arrest or fine.”

“Rough sleepers deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse. Instead, people need long-term, dedicated support to move away from the streets for good.”

Connor Johnston, a barrister specialising in homelessness, added: “The purpose of these orders is to clamp down on antisocial or nuisance behaviour that impacts on the quality of life of those in the locality.

“There is nothing inherently antisocial about a person being forced to sleep rough and we should not be criminalising it.”

Mark McPherson from Homeless Link said to “criminalise sleeping rough could simply create additional problems to be overcome”.

“If local authorities are concerned about people sleeping on their streets, we would urge them to work with local homelessness charities and authorities to connect people with the structured help they need to get off the streets for good.”

Deputy mayor, Sophie Linden, denied claims Hackney Council is trying to criminalise homelessness. “The welfare of every vulnerable person is of highest importance to us”, she said.

“We are trying to tackle persistent antisocial behaviour that is concentrated in specific areas and having an adverse effect on the lives of residents and visitors to the area”.

The Public Space Protection Order states: “Officers will put rough sleepers in contact with organisations that make sure they get the medical attention that they need, and help with housing.”

Connor Johnston said the Public Space Protection Order will simply “shunt homeless people to another borough”.

He added: “This won’t solve anything beyond making our streets a bit ‘shinier’ and will almost certainly just make it harder for those sleeping rough to access the support services they rely on.”

Oxford City Council has introduced a similar order. Homeless people were made exempt after a consultation found it would not be an effective way of tackling homelessness in the city. A petition against the order was signed by over 72,000 people.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Thankyou readers for making such a fuss for us.

    You have achieved a U turn from Hackney that would have been rolled out nationally, after the testing period, if not stopped at source.

    It just shows that when the public stand up en masse, then, together, we can get democracy.

    Best Regards

    RoughSleeper

    (8.6184 x 10K hours expertise, Boots on the ground, @ 1.5650 pence/day)

    PS. I was waiting with relish for them to try to take £1000, £100, or 1 penny, from me.

  2. Call me stupid but if a homeless person has £100 surely they could get a bed for the night? If not then does this means they get arrested and spend the night in a cell? I suppose the subsequent fines and court costs mean they can’t afford a bed for ever.

    An interesting point is that the government (and many western governments) are trying to force a cashless society on the serfdom so they can move interest rates negative. That means that if you have no bank account from which to pay the fine you end up in court unable to pay by default. This in effect criminalises not having a bank account. Same for any on the spot fine or paying your council tax or indeed anything.

    I guess begging will go electronic.

    “Give us a swipe sir”

  3. “shunt homeless people to another borough”.

    Right. And hence no longer be THEIR problem. Out of sight, out of mind.

  4. I can’t wait for this. They are going to look even worse on my blogs.

    What about a fine for eating Scrapee from the bins?
    Accepting food from the public?
    Inciting support?
    How about one for wrapping up against the cold & rain?
    And one for drinking water?
    Washing?
    Using libraries & public spaces?
    Exposing Operation Coverup?

    Go for it!

    Watch this space!

    (8.6112 x 10K hours expertise, Boots on the ground, @ 1.5663 pence/day)

  5. Oh officers will put them in contact with an agency? That’s lovely… they’ll still be fining £100 though won’t they? Homeless people almost certainly know of such agencies by now, the threat of a fine isn’t gonna shorten their waiting lists. The deputy can say wellfair is her top priority as much as she likes, same as every representative says it, but it’s not gonna be true until she stops being delusional and starts helping instead of harming. If it isn’t criminalisiing homelessness why is there a fine for being caught sleeping rough?? If these people could afford £100 fines they could afford somewhere to live. Psychopathic and delusional.

    • Not to mention now they’ll have a record for the fine, which means they’ll have a much harder time finding future support and work, etc.

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