Homeless people face being criminalised in an East London borough due to a ban on anti-social behaviour.
London’s Hackney council has been accused by the Crisis charity of treating the homeless as a ‘nuisance’ with its new Public Space Protection Order which threatens rough sleepers with £1,000 fines.
The London council launched the Public Space Protection Order last month which bans sleeping in doorways and lands offenders with a £100 fixed penalty notice or a fine of up to £1,000.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of national homelessness charity Crisis, told The Hackney Citizen: “Any moves to ban and criminalise rough sleeping will be counter-productive and only make it harder for people to access the dedicated support they need to move away from the streets for good.”
The Mirror reports:
Homelessness charities fear the move at tourist hotspots will criminalise the homeless and not help them get off the streets.
Crisis said it was concerned about any measure which makes life more difficult for rough sleepers.
Matt Downie, the charity’s director of policy and external affairs, said: “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.”
Mark McPherson of Homeless Link, an umbrella charity for groups working with homeless people, added: “Those who sleep on the streets are extremely vulnerable and often do not know where to turn for help.
“These individuals need additional support to leave homelessness behind, and any move to criminalise sleeping rough could simply create additional problems to be overcome.”
The move applies to tourist-friendly hotspots in the borough, including Broadway Market and the Regents Canal.
PSPOs are a measure which intend to give councils more power to tackle anti-social behaviour.
It means police or council officers have the power to ask people to stop doing a number of things – from drinking on the streets, having a dog off a lead or sleeping rough.
Councils have to consult with the local police before introducing a PSPO, and be sure that it will have a positive affect on the area.
But the Labour council insists it’s not setting out to criminalise the homeless.