The Government has launched a new consultation on repealing the Vagrancy Act, open from 7th April 2022 to 5th May 2022.
It seeks views on proposals to respond effectively to begging, potential penalties for harmful begging, and how to encourage vulnerable people to engage with rehabilitative support.
The Government is planning to repeal the Vagrancy Act, looking to ensure the police can protect the public and communities. The publication states that the Government is determined to put an end to rough sleeping.
The publication also highlights that the Government has driven a 43% drop in rough sleeping since 2019, which is currently at an 8-year low.
Responding to the consultation, Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, comments: “We were delighted to hear that the Vagrancy Act would be repealed. It’s positive that the government is consulting on how to provide essential support for vulnerable people as part of this.
“However, we cannot replace one punitive legislation with another targeting people on the streets. Our core concern is that the proposals are far too wide, could be open to abuse, and lead to people on the streets being punished instead of given the vital help they need. Through our frontline work, we know that an approach based on punishment will drive people away from trying to get support.
“Instead of focussing on measures that may further penalise people on the streets, the government must instead look at how it can encourage a multi-agency approach. This includes ensuring the police can more effectively work with people in this situation, are given training to enable them to do this, and also looking at what wider support from local authorities and other organisations is needed.”