The homeless people in Hackney, London are facing expulsion from the street due to a new law will allow the police to give out fines and other legal penalties to homeless people who are found loitering, begging and sleeping in commercial places.
This “Public Space Protection Order” which was introduced by the council of Hackney will place a fine of £1000 on homeless activities. The order has been met with numerous criticisms, with many pointing out that the new laws effectively outlaw homelessness.
Matt Downie of homelessness charity Crisis, one of the major opponents of this legislation, said that the homeless population in London has been victimized enough.
“Rough sleepers deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse. 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 criminalize sleeping rough could simply create additional problems to be overcome,” Downie said.
A similar scenario was supposed to happen in Oxford, but during the consultation process, there was so much outcry from the local population that the government was forced to pull back on their proposal. In the case of Hackney, there was not a single consultation before the policy was introduced.
The policy has been largely rejected by people in Hackney, and there have been thousands of people to sign petitions that ask for the ban to be lifted. However, it is not clear if the city has any intention of paying attention to these people.
We have covered many other instances of homelessness being criminalized in recent months. As we reported just a few weeks ago, that homeless people and supporters in Sacramento were protesting a recent ordinance that makes it illegal for them to camp in the city. Many of them were camped out in front of city hall for the past month and are demanding a reversal of the camping ban. Soon after, police invaded the encampment in riot gear and made several arrests.
In another story, we recently covered a homeless man was arrested in Fairfax Virginia this week after police discovered a home that he made for himself in a local park.