We are working with governments across Britain to make sure that by law every homeless person is entitled to get the help they need. We want people to be offered help, not criminalised for being homeless. This includes people who come here from overseas. We know that many homeless people have spent time in prison. Helping people into housing when they leave prison makes them less likely to commit more crimes.
Read how the law and rights has an impact on people's lives.
'I got released from prison a week ago but I had nowhere to go because I had broken up with my girlfriend before I got arrested. I was on remand for five weeks and when it came to court I wasn’t sentenced but there wasn’t any advice about housing or anything like that. There was no help. They never said anything to me. They just let me out. I’ve been on the street ever since. No one knows I’m here but there’s not really anyone to tell. I grew up in Kent and my parents put me into care when I was eleven. I lived in a residential school in Chelmsford until I was sixteen. My mum had been ill a lot of the time and my dad was never there. Even when they were together I remember they used to sleep in separate bedrooms. I think they decided that I was just another problem for them. I hated my mum and dad for putting me in that situation. I was an only child so I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to turn to. For an eleven-year old boy it was really confusing. I felt disowned. After I left care I tried to go back home for a while but it was clear they still didn’t want me around, so I just left.'
Our research examines the impact of legislation and interventions on homelessness.
Public spending would fall by
if 40,000 people were prevented from experiencing one year of homelessness
It is time to repeal the Vagrancy Act, yes. But if the answer was ever about whether to criminalise people, then we have been asking the wrong question. If we can see our way past labelling, grouping, dismissing, damning, pointlessly prosecuting and fining people, perhaps we can start answering the right question. What help and support do people need to realise their potential, and how quickly can we get it to everyone that needs it?
The centuries-old Vagrancy Act, which makes rough sleeping and begging illegal in England and Wales, should be scrapped because it is needlessly pushing vulnerable people further from help, according to a new report from homelessness charity Crisis. The calls come as the Government today announces its review of the Act as part of its rough sleeping strategy.