Thousands of people are still fined and prosecuted for sleeping rough and begging every year thanks to the two-centuries-old Vagrancy Act. Trapping people in cycles of debt and criminality is the opposite of compassion. The Vagrancy Act must be scrapped.
Police forces across England and Wales are still fining and arresting 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 It is the very definition of out-of-date.
WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED?
Twenty thousand people have been prosecuted over the last decade.
The Act can carry fines of £1,000 with the possibility of criminal records – the opposite of a modern and compassionate approach to homelessness.
The former Government 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.
WHAT IS LIBERTY DOING ABOUT IT?
We’ve joined leading homelessness charities Crisis, Centre Point, Cymorth Cymru, Homeless Link, Shelter Cymru, St Mungo’s and The Wallich to call on the Government to finally scrap this outdated law.
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