Liberty: scrap the Vagrancy Act – and cruel attitudes to poverty
Posted on 25 Feb 2021
- LIBERTY WELCOMES CALLS TO SCRAP VAGRANCY ACT
- SEC OF STATE CALLS VAGRANCY ACT ‘ANTIQUATED’
- LIBERTY URGES GOV’T TO STOP CRIMINALISATION OF POVERTY
Liberty has responded to news that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said today in Parliament that the Vagrancy Act 1824 is an “antiquated piece of legislation” which “should be consigned to history”.
Sam Grant, Liberty’s head of policy and campaigns, said: “Today’s comments from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government about his desire to scrap the Vagrancy Act are very welcome.
“We agree it is an ‘antiquated piece of legislation whose time has been and gone’. Liberty along with many others has been campaigning for its repeal for many years and we agree with Mr Jenrick that it should be confined to history.
“However, this move needs to be coupled with a change in approach, namely stopping the reliance on criminalisation to solve complex social issues.
“In recent years we’ve seen a rash of Public Spaces Protection Orders introduced by local councils to criminalise rough sleeping.
“If you’re sleeping rough or begging, that is a result of poverty and that’s a problem for society to solve not punish. Unfortunately, long term solutions to the systemic causes of homelessness are often overlooked for short-term ‘fixes’ which allow councils to try to push the problem elsewhere through fines and criminalisation.
“Punishing those in poverty is an attitude which is as archaic as it is cruel. We need a more humane, forward-thinking approach to build the sort of society we should all enjoy, one where everyone – regardless of their circumstance – is treated with dignity and respect.”
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