Success! Homelessness Is No Longer a Crime in Stoke-on-Trent

Over 300,000 people in the U.K. are homeless. That’s the equivalent of one in every 200 residents. And the number of U.K. residents with no place to call home is increasing.

You might expect local authorities to take action and help people whose lives are in crisis, but instead the council for Stoke-on-Trent, a city in the center of England, came up with the idea of fining people living on the streets £100, using a law known as Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs).

This would increase to a whopping £1000 (around $1350) for those who are unable to pay the fine and end up in court. 

And if they can’t afford £100, where is the £1000 supposed to come from?

When Christian Garland found out what Stoke-on-Trent was proposing to deal with the “homeless problem,” he jumped into action and created a Care2 petition demanding “No PSPOs to criminalize homelessness in Stoke, no to social cleansing.”

“The sick absurdity of criminalising people who are in crisis and adding to it further by imposing fines they can’t pay, is seemingly lost on Stoke-on-Trent council, which is proposing the punitive use of PSPOs in the city centre, Hanley park, Festival park and Octagon retail park,” Garland wrote in his petition.

Within just 48 hours, the petition had garnered over 15,000 signatures from Care2 members dismayed and angry at such an inhuman proposal.

As Roz W. from the U.K. wrote on the petition: “This is ridiculous. You don’t fine someone for having misfortune. We should, rather, fine the government and society for allowing this to happen!”

Success!

It didn’t take long for the city council to take notice of the public outcry against the idea of imposing a fine on people for being homeless. Here’s what Garland posted on his petition:

“Victory. Stoke-on-Trent dropped the proposal – this petition of now 15,743 signatures contributing to that without doubt. The council confirming this week that the fine element had been removed due to the ‘strength of response’ and added: ‘We got it wrong. This option should not have been included.’”

Congratulations to Christian Garland and all you Care2 activists who signed up to support him. 

Here’s what Ruth Smeeth, the Labor Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove had to say,

“This is a cruel and callous policy to inflict on our most vulnerable in the lead-up to Christmas. We do have a growing problem with homelessness here in Stoke-on-Trent, but punishing people for being homeless is appalling. Locking these people up or saddling them with debt they can’t pay will only make the problem worse.”

PSPOs, brought in by the U.K.’s coalition government in 2014, are especially nasty, as they create ways for local authorities to criminalize behavior not previously defined as criminal, such as homelessness.

They’ve been implemented in various cities of the U.K. but, as Garland notes in his petition, “There is significant push back and 9 out of 10 anti-homelessness measures have had to be scrapped as a result of opposition and protest. This petition aims to help make it 10 out of 11.”

Take Action!

Now Garland is working to make that 11 out of 11.

The city of Southampton, on the south coast of England, is also proposing to fine the homeless for being homeless.

If you agree that this is an inhuman and mean-spirited proposal, please sign his Care2 petition, demanding that Southampton City Council get kid of PSPOs which criminalize the homeless.

 

Photo Credit: By Matthew Woitunski (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

59 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S4 days ago

thanks

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S4 days ago

thanks

SEND
Jim V
Jim V4 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Jim V
Jim V4 days ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Cathy B
Cathy B16 days ago

Encouraging news. Thank you.

SEND
Reverend Suzy D
Reverend Suzy D23 days ago

Well done to all those who made this possible.

SEND
Reverend Suzy D
Reverend Suzy D23 days ago

When there is no more homelessness; that will be a real success !

SEND
Mary F
Mary Fabout a month ago

I am glad for some good news!

SEND
Pat P
Pat Pabout a month ago

Are these people crazy sociopaths?!

Thankfully, some petitions work!

SEND
Jeramie D
Jeramie Dabout a month ago

Congratulations.

SEND