Legislation to ban rough sleeping in a city centre is being sought by council leaders.
Using the new Public Spaces Protection Orders which came into force last October, Oxford City Council are putting forward proposals to prevent people from sleeping rough, reports Inside Housing.
PSPOs were introduced under the anti-social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and allow councils to prohibit activities they consider detrimental to local communities. A breach of a PSPO is classed as a criminal offensive and is punishable by prosecution or fine.
Oxford City Council’s consultation, which closed at the end of March, says a “small number of people who have been provided with support and accommodation choose to continue to sleep on the streets, putting their health and well-being at risk”.
The consultation asks if the council “should seek to prohibit this activity through a city centre Public Spaces Protection Order”.
A petition against Oxford City Council’s proposals on rough sleeping has almost 60,000 people signed up.
The petition says the proposal “risks treating rough sleepers as a problem to be dealt with, as an inconvenience, as a threat, rather than as individual human beings”.
However, Peter Sloman, chief executive of Oxford City Council, struck back at the petition’s claim that the council was seeking to ‘criminalise’ rough sleeping.
He said: “We have an excellent track record of supporting homeless people and helping them find a bed or a home… It is wrong to suggest the proposed PSPO would change any of that support. It is also untrue that the proposed order would ‘criminalise’ rough sleeping. The proposed city centre PSPO is aimed at tackling persistent types of anti-social behaviour which can spoil the experience of using the city centre for residents, businesses and visitors.”
Councillors will decide whether to proceed with the plans later in the year.
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