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Consultation launched on replacing Vagrancy Act

The Government has launched a consultation on the replacement of the Vagrancy Act 1824, which makes it an offence to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said the consultation covers the following areas:

a. How to replace the offences in the Vagrancy Act which prohibit begging "in an appropriate way that prioritises getting individuals into support".

b. How to make sure that replacement legislation on begging "supports the right environment in which to deliver effective services and to engage with vulnerable people constructively".

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c. What other changes – either legislative or non-legislative – should be considered "to better equip police, local authorities, and other agencies to engage with people who are rough sleeping and to encourage them into support".

Rough Sleeping and Housing Minister Eddie Hughes said: “No-one should be criminalised simply for having nowhere to live, and it is right that we repeal the outdated Vagrancy Act.

“We must balance our role in providing essential support for vulnerable people with ensuring that we do not weaken the ability of police to protect communities.”

In February 2022 an amendment was made to the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing (PCSC) Bill which will enable full repeal of the Vagrancy Act.

“In order to ensure that there is no gap in legislation, and to ensure that the police have the tools they need, this repeal will come into force when replacement legislation is in place,” the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said.

The consultation will run until 5 May 2022.

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