Rough sleeping and the Criminal Justice Bill

There is a firm commitment across government to end rough sleeping once and for all, backed by £2 billion worth of investment over three years. The Government’s ‘Ending Rough Sleeping For Good’ strategy is built around a ‘prevention first’ approach, including bringing forward investment so that nobody leaves a public institution – such as a prison, hospital or care – for the streets. Investment includes over £547 million for the Rough Sleeping Initiative which enables local authorities to provide tailored support, the £200 million Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme to provide long-term homes to people with complex needs with a history of rough sleeping, and more than 6,000 move-on homes through the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme.

Regarding the Criminal Justice Bill, I understand that police forces and local agencies have asked for more direct tools to respond sensitively, yet firmly, to instances of nuisance begging and rough sleeping that place individuals involved at risk or make the public feel unsafe. It is important to address the fact that begging can cause harm to the individuals involved as well as to wider communities and public spaces. Giving police and local authorities the tools they need will enable them to help more vulnerable individuals off the streets and will open up new ways to direct people to appropriate support, such as accommodation, mental health treatment or substance misuse treatment.

I will ensure my ministerial colleagues are aware of the concerns you have raised with me as the Criminal Justice Bill continues being debated.