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Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Heartless Tories target homeless

In many ways the controversial Criminal Justice Bill currently being considered by Parliament is classic Tory. It was first introduced when Suella Braverman - who branded homelessness a "lifestyle choice" - was Home Secretary, and includes a clampdown on rough sleepers. It creates new offences which would see people sleeping in doorways and on the streets punished for being a public nuisance.

It is partly reassuring therefore to see the bills most illiberal measures being challenged by a number of Tory backbenchers.

The Mirror reports that the Prime Minister is under growing pressure to abandon proposed new laws which would see homeless people face fines of up to £2,500 or imprisoned. He faces a rebellion from his own benches, while business minister Kevin Hollinrake today refused to publicly back the plan:

Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who headed a cross-party campaign against previous plans to criminalise homelessness, branded the proposals "heartless". She said: "The government should listen to their own backbenchers and take a compassionate approach to tackling homelessness, instead of stigmatising and criminalising rough sleepers. Sleeping rough is not a lifestyle choice. Ministers should focus on tackling the root causes of this crisis, not scapegoating the victims of it."

Labour Shadow Policing Minister Alex Norris said: “With soaring serious violence, plummeting charging rates and rock bottom levels of confidence in policing the Criminal Justice Bill was a chance to address crucial community safety issues. Instead the Government have chosen to go after homeless people or indeed anyone who smells. These are the twisted priorities of a government out of time.”

Business minister Mr Hollinrake said: "Those things are not within my auspices. I will be interested to see the legislation as it goes through and what the Prime Minister has planned."

Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, the national homelessness charity, urged Home Secretary James Cleverly to "drop these cruel and unnecessary measures and focus on the real solutions" including building more social housing.

Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, said homelessness was a result of the Government's "catastrophic failure to build enough social homes combined with spiralling private rents". She said: “Parliament must not enact this legislation. Instead of punishing people for being homeless, politicians should be trying to prevent them from ending up on the streets."

This bill should never have seen the light of day in the first place. It is to the Tory;s shame that it is being taken seriously at all.
Sky this morning (Kay Burley) confronted the Education 'big wig' on one part of this bill re the homeless that smell too strong. It embarrassed the minister in between her defending and waffling over the question. In the end she did imply it was not a good thing to put in the bill.
It seems that the One nation Tories are up in arms over the bill and threatening revolt. I guess we will have to watch this space over what happens next with this bill.
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