by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
London, UK, May 2013: Homelessness could be turned into a crime under new British Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill a think-tank has warned.
The Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill, which was featured in the Queen's Speech earlier this month, includes powers to ban certain activities from designated areas, and it would appear that rough sleepers are one of the main targets here. Being homeless and forced to sleep rough would thus become a crime.
The Manifesto Club claims these Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are more wide-ranging than the powers they will replace while including fewer checks on their use leaving them open to exploitation.
Josie Appleton, Manifesto Club director, said that there is widespread evidence of the over-use of existing powers, which are already too broad and have been employed unjustly to interfere with law-abiding individuals and that the danger posed by these new powers is substantially greater.
“We believe”, Josie Appleton said, “that the Government has underestimated the potential for abuse of these powers and failed to introduce sufficient checks and balances.”
As currently drafted, the PSPOs could be used by councils for actions including banning spitting, banning homeless or young people from parks, banning begging or rough sleeping and even banning smoking in outdoor public places, the group warned.
It also claimed that PSPOs have fewer legal or democratic checks and require less public consultation than alcohol-control zones or dog-control zones.
The orders can also be directed at particular groups, the think-tank says, raising the possibility of discrimination.
Appleton added: “No doubt some local authorities would use these new powers proportionately, but we can be sure that others would not.
“Public Space Protection Orders urgently need to be subjected to additional checks and limitations to ensure that they are used proportionately and do not interfere with the rights of those who use public spaces.”
We must also remember that local authorities have abused regularly the powers of the RIPA 2000 regulations and it can only be assumed that the Public Space Protection Orders will be abused even more so.
Criminalizing homelessness and rough sleeping shows how this country is turning into a total police state and it would not surprise some if the country is not soon thinking of having internment camps for people who do sleep rough, much like what happened in Nazi Germany. What has Britain, who fought so bravely against Nazi Fascism in World War Two, turned into?