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12 March 2024

Homelessness Should Not Be A Crime

The Criminal Justice Bill is a proposed piece of legislation being introduced by the UK government. It will criminalise ‘nuisance rough sleeping’, with penalties as severe as £2,500 fines and even imprisonment. 

So what does the bill specify as ‘nuisance rough sleeping’? Well, it could be sleeping in a public place, like a doorway, or having an ‘excessive smell’. You can also be arrested and charged just for looking like you’re ‘intending to sleep rough’.

The government says the bill’s purpose is to prevent instances where the public is put at risk, or rough sleepers cause ‘disruption, harassment or distress’, but analysis by the homeless charity Crisis suggests there is already sufficient legislation in place to do this. Not to mention the fact that the majority of rough sleepers are not on the streets to cause disruption, they are simply there because they have nowhere else to go. Furthermore, the overall cost of applying this new legislation to England and Wales is, according to government estimates, just shy of £55 million per year. Now not all of that will go to the rough sleeping measures, some will be spent on other aspects of the bill. But a proportion will. 

That proportion could be being spent on strategies to prevent homelessness.

The average life expectancy for someone living in the UK is 80. According to research by Sheffield University, the average homeless person in the UK dies at age 47. They’re also over nine times more likely to take their own lives than the general population. 

This legislation isn’t what they need.

So what can you do about it?

Crisis (another homelessness chairty) has created an email template that you can send to your local MP, asking them to have the rough sleeping aspects of the bill removed. It’s simple to do and takes just a couple of minutes. 

The only way we can stop this cruel law coming into place is by making our views known to our MPs, so they may accurately represent us in Parliament. 

Please take a couple of minutes to write to your locacl MP now.

Thank you.

Homelessness Should Not Be A Crime


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