A local authority has backed down from plans to impose rough sleeping fines of up to £100 following a campaigner’s three-year battle to oppose the rules.
Poole resident Sarah Ward has been battling Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which give councils the right to hand out fines for obstructing doorways, leaving belongings unattended or loitering or begging in a public space.
Ward was due to head to the High Court with the help of human rights lawyers Liberty to argue that the rules breach human rights laws before the authorities relented.
Being homeless should not be treated as a crime
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council agreed to remove the provisions of the PSPO that penalise rough sleeping ahead of the court case, signalling the end of legal action and a victory for Ward.
“I’m pleased the council has seen sense and agreed to change this broken approach without us needing to go through the time, heartache and expense of a final hearing,” said Ward, who we earmarked as a Big Issue Changemaker for 2020. “Being homeless should not be treated as a crime and we can now focus on trying to provide the support people need.”
PSPOs were introduced as council powers in 2014 and Liberty has campaigned against their use across the country, arguing plans to fine rough sleepers “frequently lead to cruel treatment of people on the streets and criminalise poverty”.