Skip to main content

Crisis responds to mistreatment of a person sleeping rough in Manchester

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “It’s distressing to see people experience this kind of treatment. Such incidents serve to traumatise and stigmatise those of us forced to sleep on the streets. We are concerned that incidents like this could become more common and urge the Westminster government to work with police forces to ensure officers are getting the right training to support people in need.  

“We can end rough sleeping but only if the government commits to addressing its root causes – by building more genuinely affordable homes and treating those sleeping rough as people, not problems. 

"Ministers are set to introduce a new approach to rough sleeping that will give authorities sweeping powers to move on and even imprison people for seeking shelter in doorways, or having an 'excessive smell'. These cruel and counterproductive proposals under the Criminal Justice Bill must be reversed." 

- Notes -  

Criminal Justice Bill 

Under its new Criminal Justice Bill, the UK government is proposing to introduce fines of £2,500 and even prison for people considered to be causing a ‘nuisance’ when rough sleeping and begging in England and Wales.  

The bill states that a person could fall foul of this law if they have slept rough, 'appear to have slept rough' or are 'intending to sleep rough'. Police and local authorities will also be able to move on, fine and imprison people if the person appears ‘likely’ to cause a nuisance, or simply carries an ‘excessive smell'. The bill defines sleeping in doorways as nuisance behaviour as it could be ‘obstructive’.  

Rough sleeping stats 

Last week the government published their annual rough sleeping snapshot, providing an estimate of how many people in England were sleeping rough on a given night in Autumn 2023.  

It found that 3,898 people were sleeping rough across England, an increase of 27% on the previous year. This is the second year in a row that the government has reported an increase in rough sleeping and the sharpest rise over a 12-month period since 2015.  

The number of people sleeping rough is now 61% higher than it was ten years ago and 120% higher than when data collection began in 2010. 

[More detail can be found here here] 

Violence and abuse of rough sleepers research 

People sleeping rough, and women in particular, often sleep in doorways or similar for a notion of safety.