Mark Whitehead 08 June 2015

Hackney confirms it will not be fining homeless people

References to ‘rough sleepers’ are being removed from Hackney's Public Space Protection Order following protests that it would 'criminalise homelessness'.

The London council said the move 'more clearly reflects the anti-social behaviour the order is targeting and the course of action that could be taken.'

It said it would continue to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area through a combination of support and enforcement, and work with the homeless charity Thames Reach to try to help vulnerable people off the street.

More than 65,000 people signed a petition against the new order which they said would have enabled police and council officers to order people to stop activities including begging or sleeping rough.

They claimed those who breached the order could have been handed a fixed penalty notice of £100 or landed with a £1,000 fine in court.

Cllr Sophie Linden, Hackney Council's deputy mayor, said: 'People were understandably concerned by inaccurate headlines, despite the council making it clear that this order was not about targeting homeless people.

'Nor was it the council's response to homelessness. Anyone sleeping rough in Hackney is always offered a bed and the support and help they need.

'The order was never intended to punish people who have fallen on hard times, been evicted and found themselves without a roof over their heads.'

She added: 'We will continue to tackle anti-social behaviour, through a combination of support and enforcement, on behalf of our residents who deserve to be able to use our streets and parks without fear of anti-social behaviour or abuse and we will continue to work with Thames Reach to support vulnerable people.'

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