Housing

Rough sleepers are still being fined and imprisoned for being homeless

More than 50 local authorities have public space protection orders (PSPOs) in place, according to the Guardian

London, England - May 25, 2011: Two Police Women walking down the street

Growing numbers of homeless people are being fined, given criminal convictions and imprisoned for begging and rough sleeping according to an investigation published by the Guardian on Sunday.

More than 50 local authorities have public space protection orders (PSPOs) in place.

The report, compiled by the Guardian after a Freedom of Information request, found that local authorities in England and Wales have issued fixed penalty notices and pursued criminal convictions for begging and loitering since they were given strengthened powers by the then home secretary, Theresa May in 2014.

Since then at least 51 people have been convicted for breach of a PSPO for begging and loitering, with some even fined up to £1,100, the Guardian found.

Breaching a PSPO can result in a £100 fixed-penalty notice, a summary conviction and even a criminal behaviour order (CBO), which bans any future begging. If they fail to pay, they can face a fine of up to £1000 with a CBO violation resulting in five years in prison.

The introduction of PSPOs in 2014 was intended to restrict how a particular public area could be used, but the report comes following updated Home Office guidance in December last year stating that PSPOs “should not be used to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping, as this in itself is unlikely to mean that such behaviour is having an unreasonably detrimental effect on the community’s quality of life which justifies the restrictions imposed”.

When contacted by the the Guardian, a Home Office spokesperson said: “We are clear that PSPOs should be used proportionately to tackle antisocial behaviour, and not to target specific groups or the most vulnerable in our communities. We set this out clearly when in December last year we refreshed the statutory guidance for frontline professionals on the use of the antisocial behaviour powers.

Charities have called on the government to scrap the use of PSPOs, claiming they’re an abuse of power on society’s most vulnerable.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?
Angela Rayner announces Labour new town plan
Housing

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know