The House of Lords has voted to scrap the 198-year-old Vagrancy Act which criminalises rough sleeping as part of the government’s controversial anti-protest bill.
Peers voted to amend Priti Patel’s Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill with a majority of 43 votes, meaning that MPs will now decide whether to scrap the act as part of the bill before it becomes law.
The government has previously said it will replace the Vagrancy Act but campaigners have reacted with joy following the vote which took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
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“When this bill returns to the House of Commons, MPs will have an historic chance to decriminalise homelessness once and for all. The Vagrancy Act is an appalling and outdated law which does nothing to tackle homelessness, only forcing people further away from support,” said Matt Downie, the chief executive of Crisis.
“We applaud every peer who backed its repeal and thank every Crisis campaigner who has supported our Scrap the Act campaign. As the Prime Minister himself told MPs, no one should be criminalised for having nowhere to live. We now urge his government to finish the job and stand ready to support them in consigning this obscene law to history.”
The homelessness charity has been leading calls for the act to be replaced in recent years through its Scrap the Act campaign.