Crisis responds to the government publishing the Criminal Justice Bill

Following the King’s Speech, the government has published the Criminal Justice Bill which includes new legislation to replace the 1824 Vagrancy Act. 

Responding to its publication Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said:These new powers are not needed and will only cause further harm to people already experiencing the brutality of life on the streets. We’ve always been clear that there is no need for replacement powers for the Vagrancy Act, so it’s deeply disappointing to see that the government has pressed ahead and introduced new, punitive measures. Hidden among the detail are powers to move people on who are sleeping rough, and criminalise them if they don’t comply 

“While we’re relieved to see that the worst of the proposals to criminalise the use of tents have not been included, we know that fining or moving people on who have nowhere to go does not solve homelessness. The government says it wants police and local authorities to provide support to people rough sleeping, but the only way for this to genuinely work is to provide safe accommodation alongside help. We cannot expect people to overcome challenges like mental health or addiction while also facing all the dangers of sleeping on our streets.   

“To ensure people aren't trapped in a cycle of being criminalised for rough sleeping, the government must provide genuinely affordable housing combined with wraparound support services, so people can rebuild their lives. Fining and arresting people will never be the answer.”