Vagrancy Act

Stand Against Criminalising Poverty

Homelessness is caused by complex social issues which cannot possibly be solved by criminal sanctions. The Vagrancy Act must be scrapped.

"Fining people for being poor keeps us poor. It gives no route off the streets."

Karl Smith

Police forces across England and Wales are still prosecuting people for begging and rough sleeping under the Vagrancy Act.

This law came into force in 1824 – less than 10 years after the Napoleonic Wars and a decade before the British Empire abolished slavery. It even predates the formation of the police who enforce it. It is the very definition of out-of-date.

Thousands of people are charged under the Vagrancy Act every year – but it shouldn’t be available for use at all. Homelessness is caused by complex social issues which cannot possibly be solved by criminal sanctions.

Liberty has joined forces with Crisis, Centre Point, Cymorth Cymru, Homeless Link, Shelter Cymru, St Mungo’s and The Wallich to call on the Government to finally scrap this archaic law.

The Government has already promised to review the Vagrancy Act, but this is not good enough. Until it is scrapped, homeless people will continue to suffer and be made more vulnerable instead of receiving the support they need.

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