Scrap the Vagrancy Act

What is the Vagrancy Act?

The Vagrancy Act is a piece of legislation that makes it an offence to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales. It was initially passed in Georgian England to combat increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

No one should be criminalised for being homeless

A white man is sitting on some steps. A woman in police uniform is talking to him

English / Cymraeg

Since 1824, the Vagrancy Act has made it a crime just to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales.

Criminalisation does nothing to resolve the root causes of homelessness. In fact, it's more likely to push someone further away from the vital services that help them to move away from the streets.

Thanks to our campaigning and your actions, the repeal of the Vagrancy Act is enshrined in law - a huge campaign win!

We are now pressing for the final repeal of the Act in England and Wales to happen without delay, and without additional legislation that could criminalise people who are homeless or destitute.

Until homelessness is no longer actively being criminalised, we will keep campaigning to #ScraptheAct.

Tell the government: don't criminalise homelessness by the back door

An image of a megaphone with the text: Tell the government: don't criminalise homelessness by the back door

The government wants to replace the Vagrancy Act with new laws that would give the police new powers to criminalise begging.

This approach risks criminalising homelessness by the back door and could push those on the streets further away from the help they need.

We must not replace one harmful piece of legislation with another that targets people experiencing homelessness and destitution.

Sign the petition to make sure that the government doesn't criminalise homelessness by the back door.


Take action now

Together we're powerful

The repeal of the Vagrancy Act is now enshrined in law.

This means that, for the first time in nearly 200 years, sleeping rough will no longer be a crime in England and Wales.

Without your voice as part of this campaign, the government would not have acted to make this possible.

People who had been criminalised under the Act spoke out. Thousands of us signed petitions, emailed Government ministers, started conversations, contacted our MP, and shared the campaign online. Organisations and politicians came together.

This shows just how powerful we can be when we work together.

So, thank you to everyone who took action to make this happen.


Watch: Crisis at Christmas guests and volunteers on the Vagrancy Act

"It's outrageous. Appalling." "A poor reflection on society."

Watch the reaction of Crisis at Christmas guests and volunteers to finding out about the Vagrancy Act - the centuries-old law that criminalised rough sleeping.

Find out more

Campaign partners


Campaign supporters

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Howard League Aspire Cardinal Hume
Emmaus Action Homeless
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