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Being homeless is NOT a crime, Tories fine homeless people £1000

Imagine you have almost nothing in the world. No job, no home, no possessions. You have no material wealth at all. The only thing you have is your right to exist, your only possession your right to sit, to sleep, to literally just be.
Now imagine having that taken from you as well.
This pretty much just happened, in London. Not in Qatar, or Russia, or one of countless other places where human rights abuses are about as common as passing traffic.
This happened in Hackney, where the council recently introduced a Public Space Protection Order allowing police and council officers to issue fines of up to £1,000 for a range of so-called offences including begging, loitering and rough sleeping.
In other words, a London borough just criminalised being homeless.
Homeless people have faced an increasing infringement of their rights in recent years. Until now, this has largely been driven by the private sector, which uses armies of security guards and "defensive architecture" such as anti-homeless spikes and anti-sleeping benches to ensure only the right kind of people are allowed access to their properties. This is itself a problem, given the rate at which public space is being seized by the grasping hands of private companies. But the fact that a local authority – a body which has a duty to protect its most vulnerable residents – is criminalising homelessness, marks a shocking escalation of an already disturbing trend.





(Photo by Tom Johnson)
Jon Sparkes, chief executive at homelessness charity Crisis described Hackney's policy as "counter-productive", pointing out that "people in desperate circumstances deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance". Mark McPherson, director of strategy at Homeless Link, said, "any move to criminalise sleeping rough could simply create additional problems to be overcome". In Oxford, a similar proposed ban on rough sleeping was scrapped after an outcry during the consultation process. By contrast, Hackney Council didn't bother conducting a public consultation before introducing the policy. If they had, they might have heard from tens of thousands of people who have signed a petition calling for the rough sleeping ban to be lifted.

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