Earlier this month we drafted an open letter alongside Shelter Cymru and Cymorth Cymru expressing our continuing concern with Newport City Council’s public consultation on a proposal to introduce a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for Newport City Centre. We believe the consultation questions to be misleading, particularly the question on rough sleepers.
We called for Newport City Council to strike the responses to question 2 of the consultation regarding rough sleepers from any future report generated from the questionnaire as we believe that the biased nature of the question would lead to unrepresentative results.
Read our letter here: Open Letter to Newport Council
The Wallich works across Wales to get people off the streets, keep people off the streets and create opportunities for them to re-engage with their communities. Our Rough Sleepers Intervention Team (RSIT) have supported 267 people in Newport over the last 12 months, providing hot food and drink, humanitarian aid, advice, referrals and routes into accommodation.
Over 40 of the people we supported reported a mental health issue and many have experienced domestic abuse. Further stigmatising these individuals by linking them to arson and criminal damage is deeply unhelpful. Many are victims of crime themselves. Nearly two thirds of rough sleepers say they have been insulted, urinated on or spat on by a member of the public whilst sleeping rough.*
Today Newport Council will decide at their Streetscene, Regeneration and Safety Scrutiny Committee whether to ban rough sleeping from the City Centre, meaning those who breach this will be subject to being moved on, being fined, or potentially arrested.
Our Chief Executive, Antonia Watson says:
“Criminalising rough sleepers is extremely counter-productive, leading to vulnerable people being driven underground rather than remaining visible where support can be offered. Many rough sleepers are victims of crime themselves and the calls to further stigmatise street homeless people by banning them from a certain area are very worrying.”
We’ll be on BBC Radio5 Live at 1.30pm this afternoon talking about the support we offer to rough sleepers in Newport.
Listen here: BBC Radio 5 Live
*Crisis – Living In fear – http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/LivingInFear_full.pdf