Criminal Justice Bill

Concerns over how proposed legislation will impact rough sleepers

What is the criminal justice bill? 

The Criminal Justice Bill is a new piece of legislation that contains new powers for police and local authorities. 

Under these new powers people who are forced in to sleeping rough could face a fine or time in prison if they are deemed to be a 'nuisance'. 

While the Government have already removed some of the most extreme measures relating to fines for an ‘excessive smell’ from the bill, there are still punitive measures in place that put rough sleepers at risk of fines and prison sentences. 

As levels of homelessness and rough sleeping continue to rise across the country we believe the focus should be on giving people a safe place to stay rather than criminalising desperation. 

Why are we concerned? 

The Home Secretary recently stated that ‘nobody should or will be criminalised simply for having nowhere to live’. However, that is exactly what this Bill risks doing by punishing and stigmatising people who have nowhere to live.

Living on the streets is dangerous, every day is a battle for survival. The extra powers outlined in this Bill risk criminalising a vulnerable group of people based on factors beyond their control.

We are also concerned that this could lead to women, who are disproportionately likely to suffer violence and sexual abuse on the streets, penalised for seeking shelter and safety in well-lit doorways.

These punitive measures will do nothing to prevent rough sleeping, and could put desperate people who have nowhere else to go in even more danger.
Nick Redmore, Director of Homelessness Services

What do we want the Government to do? 

By defining rough sleeping as a criminal matter, this Bill risks undermining efforts in England and Wales to end rough sleeping.

Rather than seeking to criminalise people sleeping rough the UK government should be investing time and resources in overcoming the factors which lead to this, such as addiction and mental health crisis. 

We are calling on the  Government to include people forced to sleep rough a priority for housing

What can you do? 

Join us in calling for a change in the law so all those forced into rough sleeping are prioritised for the help they need to escape living on the streets and end rough sleeping once and for all. Sign the petition today.

A homeless man is pictured at night sitting on a street

Sign the petition

Take action now and sign our petition calling for a change in the law so all those forced into rough sleeping are prioritised for the help they need to escape living on the streets and end rough sleeping once and for all.

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