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Rough sleeping across London hits record high

Figures come as new report calls for the end of the antiquated Vagrancy Act – which needlessly criminalises rough sleepers

New figures today from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) – the most comprehensive data available about the number of rough sleepers in London – reveal that 8,855 people slept rough in the capital in 2018/19, a sharp rise of 18%. Shockingly, these statistics also show that over the last year there has been 5,529 new rough sleepers on the capital’s streets, which is the equivalent to 15 people a day finding themselves sleeping rough for the first time. Over a third of these are people who have lost private rented accommodation.

These figures come as Crisis – alongside politicians, police and charities - launches its campaign calling on the Government to scrap the draconian Vagrancy Act which makes rough sleeping and begging illegal in England and Wales. A new FOI from the charity released today shows that more than 1,000 people were prosecuted under the act last year.

Responding to the figures Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparkes, said: “It’s simply unforgiveable that more and more people are being forced to sleep rough on our streets, facing incredible dangers every day, in large part because they cannot afford to keep their homes. Worse still, many of those in these devastating circumstances are living under the constant threat of being moved on, fined, or arrested under the antiquated Vagrancy Act.

“This cannot go on. We know with the right safety nets in place – like a housing benefit system which truly covers the costs of renting – we can tackle the roots causes and stop people becoming homeless in the first place.

“In the meantime, we must make sure that people sleeping rough aren’t being criminalised and pushed further from the help they need. That’s why today we are calling for the Vagrancy Act to be scrapped immediately. There are real solutions to resolving people’s homelessness – arrest and prosecution are not among them.”


Notes to editors

Link to the chain report here