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The Criminal Justice Bill and homelessness

What is the Criminal Justice Bill and how does it target people experiencing homelessness?

The Criminal Justice Bill was new piece of legislation introduced by the UK Government.

The Bill contained new powers for police and local authorities to enforce against so-called ‘nuisance rough sleeping’ in England and Wales. These powers included being moved on, a fine up to £2,500 and even imprisonment.

None of us should be criminalised for being homeless. 

This Bill would have criminalised and dehumanised those of us that have been failed by a system that should keep all of us safe. 

Thanks to our campaigning, the Government made concessions and removed some of the worst parts of the Bill, although the overall approach remained the same. People forced to sleep rough would have remained at risk of fines and prison sentences.

Due to the upcoming general election, the Bill will not be passed by Parliament in its current form. Thank you to all of you who took action as part of this campaign!

We’re calling on the next Westminster government not to reintroduce the Bill or any new legislation that criminalises homelessness, and to fully repeal the Vagrancy Act.

Is sleeping rough a criminal offence?

Sleeping rough has been a criminal offence since 1824. Under the Vagrancy Act, people sleeping rough in England and Wales could be moved on or fined up to £1,000.

Following a decades-long campaign, led by Crisis and supported by politicians across the political spectrum, people with lived experience of homelessness and a wide number of charities, Parliament voted to repeal this archaic Act in February 2022.

But the repeal has not yet been ‘enacted’, meaning the Vagrancy Act is technically still in force. 

We should treat people who are homeless with dignity and humanity – not with the threat of police action. 

The next UK Government must fully repeal the Vagrancy Act without delay


How we scrapped the Act

How can we end homelessness?

Criminalising people for sleeping rough is not how we end homelessness for good.

But we know what does need to happen to make a future free from homelessness a reality. That's why we're calling on the Government and all UK political parties to commit to ending all forms of homelessness

Join our Make History campaign and ahead of the 2024 General Election we can get politicians to do the right thing and make homelessness a thing of the past.


Let's Make History