A homelessness charity’s response to Newport City Council’s proposed amendment to its existing Public Space Protection Order – a PSPO. The amendment would introduce a 10m ban on begging around cash points.
We support the view that, if aggressive or intimidating begging is causing distress or harm to the public, then it should be challenged and this can be done under existing laws.
We feel this amendment could lead to people in Newport being arrested simply because they are homeless and have nowhere to go. This is not a crime or in itself antisocial. Sitting on the street with a container does not amount to anti-social behaviour: it amounts to poverty and having no other means of supporting yourself.
The government’s statutory guidance issued on 17 December 2017 clearly advises against such measures:
“Public Spaces Protection Orders should not be used to target people based solely on the fact that someone is homeless or rough sleeping, as this in itself is unlikely to mean that such behaviour is having an unreasonably detrimental effect on the community’s quality of life which justifies the restrictions imposed.”*
Those who breach a PSPO are subject to being moved on, being fined, or potentially arrested. Criminalising rough sleepers is extremely counter-productive, leading to vulnerable people being driven underground rather than remaining visible where support can be offered. We fear this amendment could further stigmatise street homeless people and increase exclusion.