There’s no time to waste - Scrap the Vagrancy Act

February 26, 2021 3:00 PM
By Rochdale Liberal Democrats
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

For years, the Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to scrap the archaic Vagrancy Act, which makes it illegal to sleep rough.

And yesterday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick conceded that we were right, and that it's time to get rid of this cruel and outdated law.

Last year, I introduced a cross-party Bill for the second time that would scrap the Vagrancy Act. The Government can pick it up and scrap the act in a heartbeat.

And there's no time to waste.

COVID-19 has seen a sharp rise in homelessness and rough sleepers are at a much higher risk of catching the virus.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a sharp rise in homelessness. Rough sleepers are at a much higher risk of catching the virus and have no reliable way to self-isolate if they do. The Everyone In policy during the pandemic has helped an incredible number of rough sleepers, but it won't last forever.

But homelessness is not new, and is not going away once we defeat Covid.

Rough sleepers have been falling foul of the cruel and outdated 'Vagrancy Act' for 197 years. It has been used to move rough sleepers on, issue fines and put people in prison cells for the crime of not having a home.

In 2021, sleeping rough should not be a crime.

Scrapping this archaic law represents the first step in a journey to taking a more compassionate and holistic approach to homelessness.

So let's make sure Robert Jenrick follows through on his promise and scraps the Act once and for all.