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London Council to fine homeless £1,000 for sleeping rough

FINES: Hackney Council can fine people £1,000 for sleeping rough

AN EAST London council has been accused of treating the homeless as a "nuisance" after threatening rough sleepers with £1,000 fines.

Hackney Council launched a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) last month that bans sleeping in doorways - with offenders handed a £100 fixed penalty notice that can rise 10-fold in court.

Homelessness charities fear the move at tourist hotspots will criminalise the homeless and not help them get off the streets, according to The Mirror.

Homeless charity Crisis said it was concerned about any measure which makes life more difficult for rough sleepers.

Matt Downie, the charity's director of policy and external affairs, said: "Rough sleepers deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse.

"Instead, people need long-term, dedicated support to move away from the streets for good.”

The move applies to tourist-friendly hotspots in the borough, including Broadway Market and the Regents Canal.

PSPOs are a measure which intend to give councils more power to tackle anti-social behaviour.

It means police or council officers have the power to ask people to stop doing a number of things - from drinking on the streets, having a dog off a lead or sleeping rough.

Councils have to consult with the local police before introducing a PSPO, and be sure that it will have a positive affect on the area.

But the Labour council insists it's not setting out to criminalise the homeless.

Deputy mayor Sophie Linden said: “The welfare of every vulnerable person is of highest importance to us.

"We are trying to tackle persistent antisocial behaviour that is concentrated in specific areas and having an adverse effect on the lives of residents and visitors to the area.”

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