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Vagrancy Act, which makes it illegal to sleep rough, to be scrapped after pressure from Kent MP Tracey Crouch


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The Prime Minister has confirmed plans to scrap legislation that makes it illegal to sleep rough are underway following pressure to speed up the process from a Kent MP.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, wrote to Boris Johnson asking him to bring forward the repeal of the nearly 200-year-old Vagrancy Act, something which was promised by the previous Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick earlier this year.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford
Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford

But so far no timeline on when this might happen has been set.

The letter from Ms Crouch and Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, previously sent to the Prime Minister and Michael Gove, who replaced Mr Jenrick, said: “This Dickensian law has no place in modern society, and numerous organisations working in the sector have long called for its repeal.

“As we emerge from this pandemic, and we move from emergency measures to the need for a long-term strategy, the first thing that needs to happen is the restoration of trust between many rough sleepers and the authorities.

"Without that, the government will not be able to meet its manifesto commitment of ending rough sleeping by 2024.”

Ms Crouch asked for the deadline to be set as Christmas.

The act criminalises rough sleepers
The act criminalises rough sleepers

The Prime Minister responded to the letter in the Commons today but still did not set a deadline.

He said: “No one should be criminalised simply for having nowhere to live, and I think the time has come to reconsider the Vagrancy Act but also to redouble our efforts to fight homelessness – as I think we’ve done successfully over the pandemic but must continue to do.”

The Vagrancy Act has been around since 1824 and prosecutes approximately 10 people each week according to iNews.

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