Sunday, 01 March 2015

Charity criticises shift towards criminalising homelessness in Europe

Charity hits out at rough sleeping laws

An international federation of homelessness organisations has warned that London has joined a ‘worrying’ Europe-wide trend to criminalise homeless people.

Feantsa, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, spoke out after rough sleeping was outlawed in Budapest.

The federation, which has more than 100 members across the EU, drew parallels with Westminster Council’s plans for a new by-law that would ban rough sleeping in certain areas of the central London borough. It said there was an ‘alarming’ and ‘cruel’ development across Europe, including in Madrid, London and Prague, to expel homeless people from public spaces.

The federation said governments of EU member states had committed to developing homelessness strategies and had pledged to take steps to end the problem. However it added: ‘Municipal administrations are offering responses that would exacerbate the social exclusion and human rights violation of people experiencing homelessness.’

Westminster Council’s proposed ban on rough sleeping in some areas has been largely condemned by homelessness charities.

Jenny Edwards, chief executive of umbrella group Homeless Link, said the ‘trend’ identified by Feantsa should be seen as a sign that authorities have ‘not got to grips with providing the right routes off the streets’.

She added: ‘What they are left with is punishing people, which is not the answer.’

Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for society, families and adult services at Westminster Council, said: ‘Westminster does a huge amount to help rough sleepers and spends £9 million per year on rough sleeping services – more than any other local authority.

‘Ultimately, we all share the same aspirations and that is to help those who have ended up on the streets off them and into better lives.’   

Readers' comments (5)

  • Chris Webb

    It appears that the Tories are pro-Europe after all; well at least when it comes to draconianism.

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  • Yep - back to their roots. Let it never be forgotten that some Tory MPs argued at the start of the Second World War that the RAF should not bomb German factories as they were private property...

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  • If homeless people are committing common law violations ( harm to others, property, breach of peace, fraud) then they should be removed accordingly.

    If they are removed because of statutory legislation then there will be a terrible crime taking place as the only offence being committed will be against a peice of paper sat in a Brussles filing cabinet..NOT against a human.

    Common law protects the rights of man who, being with a soul, is supreme above statutory legality that is souless.

    Common law is protected by the monarch, who vowed to defend the common man. The 1215 Magna Carta states that the crown will apoint sherrifs, bailifs, magistrates and constables to uphold the common law. The Magna Carta was created before statutory "law"

    If the queens appointed constables remove homeless people who are commiting no common law offence, then they themselves are commiting common law offences in assualt and disturbance of the peace!!

    The worlds gone mad!!

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  • Just to Clarify

    A legislation, statute or "act" of parliament only carries the force of law through "consent" of the is NOT "law"...

    Common law is supreme to statutory acts or legislation as it concerns itself with the protection of others property and is quite simply common sense.

    Im a criminal if I burn someones house down..Im certainly not if someone far away has written that I cannot sleep under a doorway when its raining!

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  • i've just come in after a stroll through the westmister area where i spoke to a homeless chap who was worried about whether or not he was inside an exclusion zone. he produced a map with an area outlined in red ink. he said if he was inside this zone and congregating he could get 5 years. the world has not gone mad its gone extremely right wing which equates to the unbridled hatred of human frailty and in particular poverty. its not povertyism its class hate. there may be some in the tory party who go along with all this but its not what the majority voted for and i'm wondering what to do about it. doing nothing is not an option.

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