Layla Moran welcomes scrapping the Vagrancy Act

Layla Moran has been campaigning for years against the archaic Vagrancy Act, which criminalises rough sleepers. Yesterday the Government announced that the Act will be repealed.

She has written about it in the Big Issue under the heading: Scrapping the Vagrancy Act is just the start – now we must end rough sleeping for good.

Today marks a huge victory for the campaign to repeal the Vagrancy Act.

In 2018 a group of students from the Oxford University Student Union and Oxford-based homelessness group On Your Doorstep approached me with a petition to end the criminalisation of rough sleeping.

I was shocked to learn that the police had powers to arrest, prosecute, and otherwise harass any homeless person found begging in public. Like the students who approached me, I was outraged that those in extremely vulnerable circumstances were treated in such a Dickensian manner. I raised the issue in Prime Minister’s Questions – the first time it had been mentioned in Parliament since 1991.

Over the last few years, I continued to put pressure on the Government whenever I could. I led a debate in parliament on the Vagrancy Act, led another on rough sleeping, and late last year I, along with Tracey Crouch MP, led a letter to the prime minister calling for the Vagrancy Act to be repealed. This helped elicit a commitment from him, announced at prime minister’s questions, that the government wanted to ‘look again’ at the legislation.

My hope is that we can now transform the way we talk about rough sleeping and homelessness in this country from criminal to compassion. Everyone should have the right to have a roof over their heads and a place to call their own.

 

 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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One Comment

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 25th Feb '22 - 8:06am

    Very well done indeed to Layla and the team for this great success in over-turning a disgraceful archaic law!

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