Layla Moran MP has come out in support of Oxford Student Union’s petition to end the Vagrancy Act 1824.
This 19th century law gives police the power to arrest any people found ‘begging’ or sleeping rough in public, and has already been repealed in Scotland and in Ireland.
In 2014 and 2015, 3,071 homeless people were brought before courts in violation of the act, though this statistic does not include the law’s most common use: police asking homeless people to move along.
At their Autumn 2016 conference, the Liberal Democrats made it party policy to repeal the Vagrancy Act, as well as provide better mental health service for homeless people.
The motion, ‘An End to Homelessness’, noted the severe lack of housing in the UK, and the requirement for more social and affordable housing.
The petition has already gained more than 12,500 signatures, surpassing the 10,000 needed for a response from the government.
Commenting, Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West & Abingdon, said:
“The treatment of people homeless and sleeping rough across the UK and in Oxford is getting worse and worse, with more of an emphasis seemingly put on punitive measures and not nearly enough on support.
“In my role on the Public Accounts Committee, we have found that not nearly enough is being done to tackle homelessness, but more than this, the money that is being spent isn’t being used effectively either.
“We need more money for homeless support services, but more than that, money that will be spent fixing the core root of the problem and looks at why people are homeless in the first place. This also needs to be backed up with the building of vastly more affordable homes.”
You can sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/205388