Michael Gove faces backlash over new law ‘re-criminalizing’ sleeping on the streets


“They want to hide the consequences of their failing economic policies.”

Communities Secretary Michael Gove is facing a backlash over plans to re-criminalize sleeping on the streets.

Gove has included a clause in its new Leveling and Regeneration Bill which would allow ministers to ‘create criminal offenses or civil penalties’ relating to begging and ‘persons committing certain offenses deemed to be rogues and vagabonds’. Critics, both within the Conservative party and opposition politicians, say the measures in the bill would re-criminalize sleeping rough through the backdoor.

Earlier in the year, homeless charities had welcomed the government’s repeal of the Vagrancy Act, which dated back to 1824 and made homelessness and begging illegal. It was repealed in April as part of the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.

Homelessness charity Crisis said at the time that the criminalization of homelessness had “put our society to shame”.

The Telegraph reports that Nickie Aiken, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, urged Gove to drop the clause in question, telling the newspaper: ‘It is quite a surprising decision by the government to want to ignore a bill which has just adopted, and it’s wrong to bring him back.”

News of Gove’s plans also received backlash online, with one social media user writing: ‘Michael Gove wants to make rough sleep a crime again, just in time for the inevitable rise in bloodlessness. -shelter, thanks to the cost of living crisis. Typical conservative political politics.

“They want to hide the consequences of their failing economic policies.”

Charlie Falconer tweeted: “The Vagrancy Act has criminalized street homelessness. The government agreed to its repeal in the Police Act, etc. in May. A month later, in the Leveling Bill, the government included the power to reintroduce vagrancy law offenses ‘despite repeal’ into the Police Act. Absolute snakes.

A government spokesperson said: ‘We are clear that no one should be criminalized for having nowhere to live. That is why we are repealing the outdated vagrancy law.

“To repeal the law completely, we are committed to bringing forward more modern, fit-for-purpose legislation to ensure vulnerable people are supported to access essential support, while ensuring police still have the tools they need. it needs to ensure the safety of people. ”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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