A human rights organisation has handed out 4,000 cards to rough sleepers in England offering legal advice to protect them from “misused” Community Protection Notices (CPN).
CPNs are powers designed to protect against persistent, unreasonable anti-social behaviour but there is no restriction to the conduct that can lead to a notice being issued.
This leaves people who are experiencing street homelessness at risk of criminalisation, according to Liberty. The human rights lawyers have now distributed the cards to advise rough sleepers of their rights so they can challenge CPNs.
Liberty said it’s the first time cards have been issued to help people experiencing homelessness to protect themselves against police misuse of power.
“If any of us becomes homeless or finds ourselves out on the streets, we should be able to find support and safety. But rather than try to engage with the root causes of this issue, CPNs are designed to criminalise people who need help,” said Liberty lawyer Lara ten Caten.
“Like the Vagrancy Act and Public Space Protection Orders, CPNs are part of a senseless web of laws that trap people in poverty and criminalisation. They are frequently misused and we hope these cards will help people to know their rights when facing legal threats or nothing but the situation they find themselves in.”