The number of councils that have obtained the power to issue Â£100 fines for rough sleeping, begging and â€œloiteringâ€ in England and Wales has increased despite Home Office guidance not to target the homeless.
Local authorities have been accused of trying to â€œairbrush their streetsâ€ and â€œban homelessnessâ€ after analysis by the Guardian found at least 60 councils with public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) forbidding people from putting up tents,seeking charity and other behaviour associated with rough sleeping, up from 54 last year. Those who violate the orders are liable to a Â£100 fine which, if left unpaid, can result in a summary conviction and a Â£1,000 penalty.
Councils using the orders, both Conservative and Labour-run, have insisted that PSPOs are not targeted at the homeless but are instead used to crack down on antisocial behaviour. Last month, Manchester council became the latest local authority to start a consultation on a PSPO that would make â€œaggressive or intimidating beggingâ€ and â€œusing a tent in a manner likely to create a health and safety riskâ€ liable to a Â£100 spot fine.
The increase in PSPO use comes after the GuardianÂ revealed that growing numbers of vulnerable homelessÂ people are being fined, given criminal convictions and even imprisoned for begging and rough sleeping in May last year, often with no access to legal aid to challenge the prosecutions.
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45