54,000 Care2 Members Ask UK Police to Stop Arresting Homeless People

The pouring rain turned into hail for a while, but that didn’t stop Care2 activists from taking action in the U.K. on April 16.

On that day, Care2 U.K. Campaigner Frances Donnelly led a group of Care2 members and other groups against fining homeless people for non-aggressive begging. Around a hundred people marched in miserable weather conditions to Brighton town hall, where Donnelly gave a speech about the issue. Then she delivered a Care2 petition with more than 54,000 signatures, asking Sussex Police to stop arresting rough sleepers. 

Donnelly created her petition when she learned police officers in the county of Sussex, where Brighton is located, have been arresting homeless people, who are then fined for begging.

Creating A Cycle Of Punishment And Further Poverty

As her petition points out:pr

“This approach does nothing to alleviate homelessness, instead creating a cycle of punishment and further poverty. Please sign this petition to ask the Sussex police stop arresting rough sleepers and having them fined for non-aggressive begging.

Ray Pape, a defence lawyer who works with homeless people, has seen a rise in the number of clients prosecuted for begging. He said: “It is difficult to see why it is in the public interest … I am not talking about aggressive begging or harassment but situations where people have asked for a few pence … Is this a good use of public money?’”


Photo Credit: Care2

As they walked, protesters were accompanied by five coffins, representing the number of homeless people who have died on the street of Brighton recently.

Police are still using the Vagrancy Act of 1824 to make those arrests.

The local newspaper, The Argus, published part of Donnelly’s speech on that issue:

Frances Donnelly, from Care2, said: “The 1820s was a time when the law supported slavery and the subjugation of women. We need a contemporary response that is compassionate and effective.

“The number of rough sleepers in Brighton has risen by about 100% in the last five years.

“The crushing burden of austerity is falling on the shoulders of those with the least and fining rough sleepers for non-aggressive begging is placing an additional burden on the most vulnerable.

“It’s our responsibility to fight back and say ‘no’ to pointless punishment.”


Photo Credit: Care2

Homelessness On The Rise

Statistics on homeless populations can only be estimates, but 3,569 people were counted or estimated by local authorities to be sleeping rough on any one night in England in autumn 2015. This was up 30% from 2,744 in 2014, and the number has doubled since the current methodology for measuring rough sleeping began in 2010. Westminster, in the city of London, has the highest level in England, but Brighton comes in third.

It’s also difficult to come up with a number for how many people die as a result of being homeless, but the organization Streets of London estimates that on average, homeless people die at the age of 47, compared to 81 for the average U.K. citizen. They are also more likely to commit suicide. 

Thank You To All Who Signed Donnelly’s Petition

Donnelly was excited by the response to her petition, and to her reception at the march.  “It was a really great day for everyone involved, bringing together homeless people and their allies, showing the best side of local community – and more than a bit of light in the darkness,” she told Care2.

If you agree with Donnelly that Sussex Police should stop arresting rough sleepers, please sign her petition stating that it’s time to stop the cycle of poverty and fines, and find more appropriate ways to respond to the issues facing local homeless people. 

And if you have an issue that is deeply troubling to you, just like Donnelly, you can create your own petition. Use this handy guide to help you get started, and soon you’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists signing up to support your cause and help you make a difference.


Photo Credit: Care2


Chun Lai T
Chun Lai Tabout a year ago


Philippa Powers
Philippa Powersabout a year ago


Angelflowers D.
Angelflowers D1 years ago

Thank you.

Rebecca Gouge
Rebecca Gouge1 years ago

It makes me so angry to see homeless people treated this way. Thank you for sharing.

Saeeda M.
Saeeda Makhlooq1 years ago

Agreed. They shouldn't be arrested for sleeping rough cause of being homelessness. Thank you for sharing and caring.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jacqueline L.

Great article! Thank you!

Jacqueline L.

Great article! Thank you!

Jax L.

Thank you!

Jax L.

Great Article!