Disappointing lack of action on Vagrancy Act

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Newbury, Lee Dillon, has said that the lack of action on the Vagrancy Act, which criminalises homelessness, in the Queen's Speech means that the vulnerable will continue to go punished rather than helped.

Despite a campaign from a cross-party group of MPs, led by Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, the Conservative government failed to announce the scrapping of the Vagrancy Act in today's Queen's Speech.

The Act, a Victorian piece of legislation introduced in 1824, criminalises rough sleeping in England and Wales and is still enforced today.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Newbury Lee Dillon said:

"It's incredible that almost 200 years on it is still the law that rough sleepers can be arrested and prosecuted for the crime of not being able to afford a roof over their head. These vulnerable people need help, not punishment."

Today the Conservative government had an opportunity to take the first step towards a more caring and compassionate approach to ending homelessness in this country. They failed.

This is a massive blow to the cross-party attempts to make scraping the Act happen, but it is still possible. As Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick must work with the cross-party group of MPs as soon as possible to scrap this archaic Act."

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